NEWTON, Mass. -- Steve Addazio left no doubt about it: As far as he’s concerned, there are no moral victories in football.
You either win the game, or you don’t.
Silver linings are for outsiders, for fans and media to analyze and debate.
The coach delivered that message in the BC locker room after the Eagles lost 48-34 to No. 8 Florida State. His players heard him loud and clear.
“It always sucks to lose, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” defensive end Kasim Edebali said. “I think we learned a lot today. Learned that we’ll fight through adversity, and that’s going to be really important for this football team in the next couple weeks. They hit that play before halftime and we came out and kept fighting.”
The Eagles didn’t lay down after halftime, after a would-be intermission tie turned into a seven-point deficit when FSU QB Jameis Winston just barely got a play off with a miraculous escape act and delivered a 55-yard TD after time expired.
BC’s offense scored 17 points in the second half, matching the total they put up on their first three drives of the game. But the Seminoles were too explosive and the lead proved insurmountable.
“We were right there,” QB Chase Rettig said. “There were a lot of good things to take from this game moving forward, but no moral victories obviously. We’ve just got to move forward and continue to work harder than we did and I’m sure we’ll see some success down the road.”
Rettig threw for a career-high four TDs against the vaunted Noles D, which had allowed an average of only 8.3 points a game coming in. But the senior also turned the ball over twice, including one for a score when he felt pressure and tried to hit Alex Amidon before the wideout was ready.
“There are a couple plays obviously in every game that can determine the outcome,” Rettig said. “We made a lot of them today, but against a team like that you really have to be perfect.”
The Eagles were far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything impressive.
BC’s 34 points are the most the school has ever scored in the series with Florida State, and is eight more than the Seminoles had allowed in their first three games combined. When BC scored on its opening drive, the 7-0 lead represented the first time FSU had trailed in a game since the second quarter of the second game (against Nevada). FSU had allowed only seven points in the first quarter all season until BC put up 14 on Saturday.
Andre Williams carried the ball 28 times for 149 yards, the most Florida State has allowed to a single ball carrier since 2010.
“I thought there were times that we had them backing up on the ropes,” senior right tackle Ian White said, “and we had to take advantage of it and get the knockout blow, but we didn’t do it.”
The Seminoles’ 21-point second-quarter rally, which included two 50-plus-yard TD throws by Winston, not only got them off the ropes but put the Eagles on their heels. And by the time they regained their footing, too many points had been scored for them to draw even on the scorecards.
Football is a zero-sum game: You either win or you lose.
But there always are shades of gray if you look hard enough at the scoreboard.
The Eagles weren’t trying to hang with the Seminoles on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. They were trying to beat them.
“You come out of that game and you don’t feel good at all because it’s all about winning,” Addazio said. “That’s all that matters is winning. But you feel like you’ve got the foundation in place of a team that’s going to battle and be tough. We have to have a great day tomorrow and we have to come back next week with the same effort and the same intensity.
“I don’t think anybody walked out of that stadium feeling like their team didn’t fight, feeling like they didn’t compete. I don’t think that’s the case.”
The Eagles failed to get the win. But that doesn’t mean they got nothing from the effort.
“We have a coaching staff that told us, ‘We’re going to take the timeouts, we’re going to keep fighting till the very end,’” linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis said. “It makes me feel good going forward for the rest of our schedule that this is the type of team that we’re becoming. We’re really finding out who we are.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.