Boston College 39, Connecticut 16: Eagles bowl eligible for 4th time in 5 years

Brooks Sutherland
November 18, 2017 - 10:40 pm

For the fourth time in five years under Steve Addazio, Boston College is headed to a bowl game.

The Eagles earned the all-important sixth win Saturday at Fenway Park, topping 3-8 Connecticut 39-16.

Addazio became the first in program history to lead his team to four bowl games in the first five years as head coach.

“It is great to be sitting here and being bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years,” said Addazio. “And we had a hard-fought game against a good UConn team. I have a lot of respect for Randy Edsall for what he has done at the University of Connecticut in the past and what he will continue to do in the future.

“We came out and they were well prepared and put up 172 yards in the first quarter. We were able to get ourselves back together and hold them to eight in the second.”

Freshman running back AJ Dillon, who has dazzled defenses all season, went back to work, totaling 200 yards on 24 carries, while reaching the end zone twice.

His 200-yard effort was the first time a rusher totaled 200 or more yards against UConn since Ray Rice did it for Rutgers in 2005.

“There were some runs that I kept telling myself that I just have to keep going,” Dillon said. “That’s been instilled in me for a very long time. I just kept the faith and kept my coaching in the back of my mind, just kept staying focused and kept trying to do my job.”

Dillon has continually emerged as one of the most dangerous running backs in the country. Saturday was his second 200-yard game of the season.

“Yeah. He’s a 200-yard runner,” Addazio said. “If we can feed him the ball and do a good job blocking for him up front, I think we’re going to be able to run the football.”

Defensively, the Eagles (6-5) picked off UConn quarterback David Pindell three times in the ball game, returning one to the house for a score. Lukas Denis and Hamp Cheevers each had picks defensively, while Taj-Amir Torres returned his pick 65 yards to pay dirt. Cheevers made his first-career start in place of injured Kamrin Moore, who is out for the rest of the season with a shoulde injury.

The Huskies were forced into nine total punts. They finished 6-for-19 on third downs in the game.

Despite losing nine starters to injury this season, the Eagles have won four of their last five, and have put together enough swagger to prove they are at the very least, coming along.

“Just coming in every day, it’s always fun,” said junior defensive lineman Zach Allen. “We come in pretty early for morning practice.  No one is ever tired. No one ever complains. We all just love each other. It’s a lot of fun to be around and it’s the most fun I’ve had playing football since I’ve been here. We are just trying to finish up the season strong and make it a special season for our seniors. Hopefully we can do that next week with a win over Syracuse and continue onto the bowl game.”

Senior quarterback Darius Wade, who started in place of injured redshirt freshman Anthony Brown, opened up the scoring by hitting Chris Garrison on a two-yard touchdown after a beautiful scramble. Dillon’s first score then came from 53 yards out after he drug five defenders by his side for the last few yards into the end zone. Dillon and Jon Hilliman combined for 307 yards and four rushing touchdowns on the night.

Allen led the Eagles in tackles defensively with 11.

Boston College will look to add a seventh win to their bowl resume at Syracuse next week.

One thing the Eagles will look to tighten up in their finale is field goal kicking. Kicker Colton Lichtenberg had his lone field goal attempt from 43 yards blocked and in the second half, the junior kicker missed three straight extra points.

“Right now, our biggest thing is get ready for a great week, we are playing our rival Syracuse,” said Addazio. “We got such a big challenge ahead of us there.”