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Given a chance, Finch takes flight

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / November 2, 2011

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Before last Saturday, Rolandan Finch never had carried the ball more than seven times in a game for Boston College.

Before last Saturday, the most yards he had gained in one game was 58.

But in BC’s 28-17 win over Maryland last week, Finch had more carries in one drive than he had had in any previous game.

He had more carries (13) and yards (76) in one quarter than in any previous game.

He had more yards in the first half (152) than he had gained (134) his entire freshman season.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 209-pound sophomore picked up more yards (243) than any back in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, and more yards than any back in BC history other than Montel Harris (264 in 2009) and Phil Bennett (253 in 1972).

Anything close to a repeat of that effort in tomorrow night’s prime time showdown against Florida State at Alumni Stadium will go a long way toward helping the Eagles win their second consecutive game.

No one is linking the two things - at least not directly.

But the running game is clearly a key to success for the Eagles, and the picture is considerably brighter than it was a week ago.

Perhaps the Maryland game was an aberration. The Eagles came in averaging 3.6 yards per carry with the running back spot depleted by injury.

Finch played sporadically as a freshman two years ago - only 28 carries for 134 yards - and last season was sidelined by an assortment of knee and foot injuries.

But a season-ending knee injury to Harris and an ankle injury to the prime backup, Andre Williams, cast Finch into a role he had waited for since coming out of Louisville St. Xavier High School as the Kentucky player of the year.

“He’s compact and he has some power and vision,’’ said BC coach Frank Spaziani. “He’s not a bowling ball, but he’s more like a duckpin ball.

“He has some good speed. I wouldn’t say he has blazing speed. He was hampered by some injuries and is not as fast as when he came here, but the more he plays, the more he is going to accomplish.’’

Finch understands that it will be much tougher against Florida State.

“They are faster - much faster than anyone we have seen this year,’’ said Finch. “The defense looks like it is the total package.’’

Add the challenge of a prime time game, and you have more than enough motivation to fill whatever part of the tank that is drained by the short turnaround.

“We have had to move everything two days up,’’ said Finch. “We just want to win, so every game we play is a big game. We know how big of a game it is for us and for them.’’

Finch said he is ready. He has been ready since he came to BC three years ago.

“I’m definitely having fun,’’ said Finch. “After I got hurt and basically missed a year, a lot of things go through your head. You don’t know if you are going to be the same, you don’t know if you are going to be better or get worse.

“I just tried to keep working hard, and you hope you get your chance sometime.’’

Three years and basically three games into his career, Finch will get his chance in a spotlight game against a quality opponent.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.