Boston College pulled a big upset win at home over Missouri in a weekend full of close games and surprising results. It was truly a team effort throughout the entire game. The Eagles’ stars made plays when they needed to and some unexpected heroes came out of the woodwork. With all that being said, we have to pick three players to highlight so let’s get into it.
Honorable Mention - Jeff Hafley, Head Coach
Before we get into the on-field results, we really have to give the man in charge some credit. Jeff Hafley has truly revitalized this football program. You could argue he’s done even more than Steve Adazzio in his first two years. But Daz inherited a program truly devoid of talent and expectations. Nevertheless, Hafley has this program poised to take big steps in the future.
Arguably, Hafley’s biggest difference from Adazzio is his ability to manage close games. Hafley’s calm demeanor and ability to make decisions under pressure have given BC several big wins during his tenure. Even in close games that the Eagles lost, it wasn’t because of clock mismanagement or lack of situational awareness.
It’s also clear that Hafley is connecting with the team in a way few coaches do. He preaches the value of culture and team unity and it’s clear that the team has fully bought in. Even after losing their starting quarterback, the team never wavered. Some people may not agree, but I thought Hafley did a masterful job handling the end of regulation. The defense kept everything in the middle as best they could. Even on the quick out to the sideline that put Mizzou in position to kick a 56-yard field goal, they prevented bigger plays from happening. Forcing a college kick to attempt a 56-yarder generally works; Missouri just had the right kicker. Even still, Hafley coached a masterful game and has BC with their best opening record since 2007.
Third Star - Connor Lytton, K: 5/5 XPs, 2/2 FGs (31, 49)
For the first time since Nate Freese, Boston College may have found a reliable, home-grown kicker. Connor Lytton was a very highly-touted kicker recruit but was not expected to contribute or maybe even play this year, with graduate student Aaron Boumerhi returning. But with Boumerhi knocked out for the year with a hip injury, Lytton had to step up. He went four for four on extra points last week against Temple but was not asked to make difficult kicks.
This week was very different. With less than a minute remaining in the first half, BC had the ball in Mizzou territory and was looking to score and take the lead into halftime. But after a near-interception and a bad sack, the Eagles were backed up and on the very edge of field goal range. Somewhat surprisingly, Hafley sent Lytton out to attempt the first field goal of his career, a 49-yarder with only seconds remaining.
But Lytton validated Hafley’s confidence and trust, booting a perfect kick through the uprights with room to spare. He tied the game going into the half and made sure BC kept the momentum. Lytton kicked another field goal (31 yards) and was flawless on extra points again. In a game where every point mattered, Lytton delivered.
Second Star - BC’s Offensive Line: 275 net yards rushing, 450 total yards, 5.8 yards per play, 1 sack
For weeks, we at BC Bulletin and the fans, in general, have been waiting for this highly decorated offensive line to show up. They played excellently as pass blockers the first few weeks, but they weren’t able to dominate in the run game. Sure, the running backs turned in some nice performances. But when you have veteran players like Ben Petrula and future top-100 NFL Draft picks in Zion Johnson and Alec Lindstrom, you expect to be owning opponents in the trenches.
That finally happened against Missouri. The Tigers came into the game with a pretty weak run defense and BC took advantage. The Eagles leaned on their run game to get down the field and chew the clock. As early as the second quarter, the BC offensive line was generating significant movement against Mizzou’s defensive line. All of the running backs had big days, with Pat Garwo posting another career-high single-game rushing mark (more on him later).
The offensive line was also great in the passing game. They along allowed one sack all game. While Mizzou generated some pressure with heavy blitzes, the offensive line repeatedly kept Grosel clean in the pocket, allowing him to step up and deliver strikes over the middle. With BC entering ACC play next week against Clemson, the offensive line will need to build off their stellar performance this week.
First Star - Pat Garwo III: 25 carries, 175 yards (7.0 yards per carry), 2 touchdowns
The Pat Garwo revenge tour continues. After posting a 160-yard effort against UMass, Garwo broke his own single-game personal best with 175 yards against the Tigers. He got off to a hot starting with a winding 67-yard touchdown run to tie up the game early.
He continued to break off big chunk runs throughout the game. Garwo displayed excellent vision and contact balance to find holes and burst through them. Through four games this season, Garwo has already eclipsed his combined career rushing yards from the previous two seasons.
The Eagles may have found their lead back, but they also seem comfortable working all three in a rotation. Garwo got most of the run early, with Sinkfield spelling him early and taking over late into the second half. Travis Levy took over in the fourth quarter and made some really clutch plays. But Garwo’s strength and power make him the ideal candidate to be the lead back; the vision and speed he displayed on his long touchdown run don’t hurt either.