Boston College 23, Northern Illinois 20: Eagles sneak by in opener

Brooks Sutherland
September 02, 2017 - 2:36 am

Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown is 1-0 as the starting quarterback at Boston College.

It wasn’t pretty at times, and had not been for a missed field goal from Northern Illinois kicker Christian Hagan with less than 30 seconds remaining, the two teams would have had to duke it out some more in overtime.

But, for Brown, the second freshman quarterback to ever start an opener in school history, he’ll take it. So will head coach Steve Addazio.

“I think that any time you get a win on the road, you’re happy,” Addazio said after the win. “We played a good football team. They played their butts off today. … We had an opportunity in that third quarter where the long drive was setting in on defense, but we found a way to keep coming back, being resilient and finding a way to win.”

Anthony Brown wasn’t announced as the starter until right before game time. He had some early jitters, some drops from receivers which didn’t help his cause, and an early pick if starting on the road as a freshman wasn’t enough.

He then settled in, found his groove and showed glimpses of a promising youngster. Brown finished 26-for-42 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Both his completions and attempts are the most a BC quarterback has thrown under Addazio.

“First game, a little nerves,” Brown said. “Slowly it started to come to me. …I just kept going.”

While it took Brown some time to heat up, the Eagles were afforded a 3-for-3 night from kicker Colton Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg drilled field goals from 42, 35 and 37 yards out. A feat that Addazio admits was a surprise coming out of camp. His 37-yarder with 2:13 remaining sealed the win.

“During preseason camp, I would say inconsistent,” Addazio said about his kicker’s consistency. “I would say that I was not very pleased coming out of camp with field-goal kicking. That’s just the truth. But, when it counted and when it mattered, I think Colton Lichtenberg needed a confidence boost. He’s got all the talent. He’s got a great leg and he’s got the talent.”

Defensively, it’s safe to say the Eagles struggled. All-American defensive end Harold Landry was neutralized for basically the entire game. Defensive back Lukas Denis forced NIU into its only turnover of the night when he picked off quarterback Ryan Graham. Despite the struggles, BC’s defense made enough timely plays to sneak by.

“It was the opener, we still have a lot of things to test out,” Denis said. “Struggles happen throughout games but, you know, we were able to come out back on top and make the plays that we needed to make.”

Jon Hilliman led a sluggish ground attack with 77 yards on 25 carries. Kobay White, another redshirt freshman found a solid connection with Brown, totaling76 yards on six carries. Michael Walker and Ray Marten caught touchdown passes from Brown.

“A lot to feel good about from the young players,” Addazio said, “and how they stepped in and made some rookie plays that will help them take off from here."