Boston College secured their third victory of the season this year. They went on the road for the second week in a row and shut down the Temple Owls, winning 28-3. The offense struggled severely in the second half. But the defense played arguably the best game of their season.
Typically, I pick out the three most outstanding individual players from the game for this series. However, this game needed something different. Additionally, I added another, albeit a not-so-positive, designation that required discussion in keeping with the astronomy theme.
Black Hole - Temple’s Penalties: 11 penalties, 66 yards (several declined)
At press time, Rod Carey still has not been admitted to the hospital for an aneurysm, a heart attack, or hypertension. If you watched the game on Saturday, this might come off as shocking news. Temple’s head coach was absolutely beside himself for the vast majority of the game. His team committed numerous pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball, both stalling promising drives and extending halted ones for BC. Carey even remarked in his postgame conference that the refs weren’t calling penalties on BC.
In defense of Carey and the Owls, I think they missed some false starts from BC. But they also called an illegal formation on right tackle Ben Petrula for lining up in the backfield. Ultimately, BC committed two accepted penalties: a holding by Trae Barry on a bubble screen (a fair call) and a personal foul on TJ Rayam for hustling to the ball after his helmet came off. Temple, on the other hand, committed 11 accepted penalties and had at least three more. The vast majority of these came pre-snap, in the form of offsides, false starts, and delays of game.
You could argue the penalties unfavorably skewed against Temple. But Carey also had ample opportunity to correct his team’s mistakes and failed to do so. He seemingly tried to engage with officials to deduce precisely what his players were doing wrong (ultimately, to no avail). It is unlikely that these penalties affected the final outcome of the game. But it was a consistent problem for the Owls throughout the afternoon, earning my first Black Hole designation of the season.
Third Star - RB/KR/PR Travis Levy: 3 carries, 10 yards, 1 TD; 2 kick returns, 87 yards; 4 punt returns, 68 yards
Last week, Travis Levy earned ACC Returner of the Week after taking a kickoff back for 96 yards and a touchdown. This surprised some BC fans, as Levy also committed a costly muff on a punt that gave UMass the ball at the one-yard line. That fumble gave UMass some much-needed momentum, helping them get back into the game.
Despite not scoring on any of his returns this week, Levy put together a fantastic performance as both the kick and punt returner. He almost housed the opening kick-off, as he couldn’t get past the last defender. But he put the BC offense in a great position, allowing them to jump out to an early lead they never relinquished.
After that, he continued aiding the BC offense with several excellent punt returns. The Temple punter started very hotly, booming kicks inside BC’s 20. But Levy continued helping the BC offense by bringing these kicks back and setting them up for success.
Levy did not get many opportunities on the ground, but he ran very hard, picking up yards after contact and running through a defender to score another touchdown. This performance may go unappreciated in hindsight. But Levy redeemed himself fully as a returner this week.
Second Star - The Temple Transfers: LB Isaiah Graham-Mobley and DT Khris Banks
It wouldn’t be fair to exclude either of these players in their return to their original school. Both former Owls played exceptionally well. IGM has transitioned into this defense seamlessly and looks to have taken on a significant leadership role on this team. The broadcast team repeatedly lauded him for being the “juice-bringer” or hype-man for this defense.
IGM wasn’t too shabby on the stat side either; he led BC in total (8) and solo (6) tackles, including a massive hit that stopped Temple QB Justin Lynch in his tracks on fourth down. Many were concerned after the Eagles lost Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie to the NFL. But IGM is filling the Richardson role perfectly while bringing McDuffie levels of speed and athleticism.
On the defensive line, which I’ll get into more deeply later, Khris Banks also earned his chance to shine against his former squad. Banks was in the backfield constantly, racking up 1.5 TFLs and sacks, respectively. He was a force in the middle, not letting the Temple offensive line move him while also getting off blocks to make tackles. On a defensive line with lots of moving parts and substitutions, Banks played outstandingly.
First Star - Defensive Line: 4 sacks, 4.5 TFLs, one forced fumble, 78 yards rushing allowed
Another multi-person winner, but it would not be fair to give this award to one player. BC’s defensive line made this victory happen. Even without their leader, Marcus Valdez, this group prevented Temple’s rushing attack from getting going before it was too late. They also put consistent pressure on the quarterback Justin Lynch. Like against Colgate, they did an excellent job keeping Lynch in the pocket and forcing him to check down or throw the ball away.
As mentioned in the previous section with Banks, the BC defensive line owned the line of scrimmage. They completely prevented Justin Lynch from using his legs to threaten the BC defense. TJ Rayam, Izaiah Henderson, Khris Banks, and Cam Horsley clogged up the rushing lanes and did a great job of tackling runners without giving ground.
The line also showed great hustle to chase down Lynch when he vacated the pocket and either sack him or force him to throw it away. Brandon Barlow and Donovan Ezeiraku each had a sack and were close to getting more. For a unit that faced so many questions going into this season, the BC defensive line has shown up every week.