Brutal finish for Eagles on senior day
November, 17, 2012
By Jack McCluskey | ESPNBoston.com
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonFrank Spaziani's face tells you everything you need to know about BC's overtime experience.NEWTON, Mass. -- It's the ultimate second-guessing situation: The game is tied, just more than a minute to go and a long field between you and paydirt.
Do you take a shot downfield, hoping to pick up a chunk of yardage and give yourself a shot at a game-winning field goal as time expires? Or do you play it safe, make sure you don't give the other team a chance to win the game at the buzzer?
Frank Spaziani faced that situation late Saturday afternoon, BC tied 23-23 with Virginia Tech, and opted to play it safe.
After the game, Spaziani was asked about the decision to play for overtime.
He paused for a long beat before answering, rubbing his face with one hand as he gathered his thoughts.
"You don't want to give the game away there," he said. "We ran the draw, if we were gonna get a good play on first down we were gonna up-tempo it."
Once the draw failed, the decision was made.
"We felt our better chance was to go into overtime," the coach said.
Suffice it to say, things didn't pan out the way Spaziani hoped in the extra session.
The Eagles won the toss, and elected to defend first. But on a third-and-4 from the 7, with the defense desperate to hold the Hokies to a field goal, Logan Thomas found Randall Dunn open in the back of the end zone for a TD to take a 30-23 lead.
That put all the pressure on the Eagles' offense, which, before a late TD drive put them briefly back on top 23-20, had scuffled badly in the second half.
On first down, the Eagles gave it to true freshman David Dudeck, who scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth when Rolandan "Deuce" Finch was out with an injury. Dudeck was stuffed.
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonIt was all over for BC when David Dudeck came up short on fourth down in overtime.
On second down, Chase Rettig dropped back to pass but couldn't find an open receiver and took his seventh sack of the afternoon for a 1-yard loss.
On third down, Rettig was creamed as he released the ball and it fell incomplete.
That meant it all came down to fourth-and-11, needing a touchdown to tie. Rettig dropped back again, looking for Alex Amidon on an in-cut over the middle. Seeing a crowd in the center of the field, Rettig checked down and hit Dudeck in the left flat, hoping he could get to the first-down marker.
But Dudeck was stood up short of the sticks, and the Hokies celebrated.
"In that situation, even if there's a bazillion guys in the area you still have to throw the football," Rettig said, regretting his decision to throw it short of the first-down distance. "Sometimes in those situations you just have to throw it up, even if there's a better chance of it being incomplete or intercepted. In that situation, that's just what we've gotta do."
In the end, might the Eagles' decision to play not to lose in regulation have cost them a chance to win?
"Every competitor wants the ball," Rettig said, describing his reaction to the call. "But it's a good decision. It's a smart decision to play for overtime.
"I don't think that decision had any impact on the game, really."
The reality of it is, the game never should've come down to overtime. After the Eagles scored to go ahead 23-20, Virginia Tech got the ball back at its own 15-yard line with 4:11 on the clock. If the BC D could get a stop, the offense would have a chance to salt away the victory on senior day.
But the D couldn't do it. On the third play of the drive, Logan Thomas found Marcus Davis deep down the left sideline for a 33-yard gain, all the way to the BC 37, flipping the field position in an instant and setting up the tying field goal.
"We had a couple chances to make plays and we didn't make 'em," Spaziani lamented.
There were more than a couple of plays the Eagles will wish they could take back. There was the 69-yard completion from Thomas to Corey Fuller, with the ball bouncing off one of the two BC defenders bracketing the receiver and then falling into his hands.
There was the strip sack by Kasim Edebali, deep in Hokies territory, when the end came free around the right side and blindsided the big QB only to see him fall on the ball before anyone else could.
There was the pass that sailed over a wide-open Alex Amidon as the wideout sprinted unchecked down the left side.
"In the course of a game there's a lot of plays that can turn the game around," Spaziani said. "Congratulations to Virginia Tech, they made some plays and won the game. We had our chances, we had chances and weren't able to convert. Came up on the short end."
It was a brutal end to the home slate in what's been a consistently frustrating season for the Eagles.
"It doesn't get much worse than that," fifth-year senior Nick Clancy said of the loss. "Being our last home game, fighting so hard until the very end like that and to fall short, it hurts, man. It really does."
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.