BC by the skin of its teeth

Mike Petraglia
September 26, 2009 - 3:01 pm

CHESTNUT HILL '€” The last thing quarterback Riley Skinner wanted to hear was a word of consolation after fumbling away a near-certain victory Saturday afternoon at Boston College. But BC senior Mike McLaughlin, in his first game back from an Achilles injury, came over and offered them to the Wake Forest signal caller anyway as Eagle players danced around celebrating a 27-24 overtime win against the Demon Deacons at Alumni Stadium. "I don't think he really wanted to hear much from me but I was just telling him I've watched him for four years now and he is a heckuva football player," McLaughlin said. "As far as just a true football player, it really doesn't get any better than him. And I said, 'I don't know if you were trying to make a play but you're a heckuva football player, and I can't wait to watch you for the next eight or nine weeks and keep your head up and go win a bunch of games.' I know they will." With Wake driving down to a first and goal at the BC 4 and needing just four more yards for game-clinching touchdown in OT, the Demon Deacons called for a sweep to the outside but Brandon Pendergrass went the wrong way causing Skinner to call an audible to himself and he rolled out on what appeared to be a naked bootleg to the left. "We had a speed sweep called to the right and the running back went the wrong way," Skinner explained afterward. "I kind of froze when I saw this happening because I didn't think he would be going a different way. When I started running, I tried to put the ball in my other hand and get back to the line of scrimmage but the BC defender just got his hand in there and knocked it out. It was bad ball security by me and it was just a sloppy play all the way around." "When you're playing a great player, you have to remember that. No. 11, Riley Skinner, he really is a great college football player, I truly believe that," McLaughlin said. "We have to do a lot better job of keeping a lead like that. The offense gets us a lead like that, that's on us, the defense." How great? As great as another ACC quarterback who just so happened to play once upon a time with McLaughlin at BC and who just so happens to be in town for a game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. "I see Matt Ryan a little bit, which is a little scary," McLaughlin said. "You do because you see the kid. I've watched him for four or five years now do stuff like that and anytime you're on the opposite sideline, you're like, 'Oh geez, here we go again.'" McLaughlin and the Eagles really had that sinking feeling when they saw a 14-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate when Skinner waited patiently in the pocket until his receiver Marshall Williams was wide open for the game-tying touchdown with :11 remaining in regulation. His final drive was 10 plays and 80 yards on enemy turf. But it was the BC defense who made the biggest play of the day when Isaac Johnson stripped Skinner of the ball and Wes Davis recovered at the 8. Game over. "We were on the ropes," BC coach Frank Spaziani said. "It was first and goal on the four. We were just trying to make a play. It looked like they had a little confusion. We were aggressive. Something good happened for us." And something horrible for Skinner. "But he made some plays and that's going to happen," McLaughlin said of the Wake QB. "A kid like that is going to make plays. We watched Matt make plays like that for four or five years and he's been doing it down there for that long." Just not on Saturday. And somewhere south of Alumni Stadium, a certain Atlanta Falcons quarterback was joining McLaughlin and the rest of the Eagles in breathing just a little easier.