Sunday, October 28, 2012
BC finally comes together on winning drive
By Jack McCluskey
NEWTON, Mass. -- Guess who said the following: “We had our opportunities to win and we couldn’t make a play when we needed to make a play here at the end. It’s very disappointing, but again, it’s one of those things that our kids played hard, competed, put themselves in a position to win the game and then couldn’t come up with the one play that we needed to make. We had opportunities, offensively, defensively and on special teams.”
Was it: (A) BC football coach Frank Spaziani or (B) Maryland coach Randy Edsall?
The answer, of course, is Edsall. But after watching their team's 1-6 start, Eagles fans would be forgiven for guessing Spaziani.
Spaziani certainly has done his share of making similar opening statements after games in 2012. But after Chase Rettig and the BC offense ripped off a 13-play, 85-yard drive to score the winning touchdown in the final minutes Saturday afternoon, the Eagles were singing a much happier tune.
BC receiver Alex Amidon played a key role in the Eagles' go-ahead drive in the final minute.
Wide receiver Alex Amidon, who played a key role on the drive, summed it up well.
“It feels great, just getting a win it feels so good,” Amidon said. “You can feel the atmosphere in the locker room. Everyone’s just so excited about it.
“We’re 1-0 today, that’s how I think about it.”
Let’s break down the drive that got the Eagles their first ACC and FBS win this season, preventing their worst start since 1989:
After BC's defense forced Maryland to go three-and-out, Rettig and the Eagles got the ball back at their own 15-yard line with 4:45 on the clock.
Rettig’s first attempt was to Amidon on a comebacker down the right sideline, and the pass was nearly intercepted as the defensive back had a play on the low throw. The junior’s second attempt was knocked down at the line by A.J. Francis, setting up third-and-10.
To that point, the Eagles were just 1-for-11 on third-down conversions.
Then Rettig found tight end Chris Pantale open over the middle for a 13-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
On first down, Rettig was pressured by right end Joe Vellano and threw the ball away. On second down, he hit Amidon over the middle for a 12-yard gain to the 40.
Again under pressure from Vellano, Rettig had to get rid of the ball quickly and tried to hit Pantale in the right flat, but the bullet pass eluded the tight end’s grasp.
That set up second-and-10, and Rettig again looked for his go-to guy, finding Amidon open on a crossing route for a 12-yard gain.
Perhaps sensing a weakness in the defense, Rettig went back to the middle on the next throw, hitting Pantale for 11 yards to the Maryland 37.
The next play was nearly a disaster for BC. Linebacker Marcus Whitfield blitzed around the right side, where he was picked up by running back Andre Williams. Williams had been in the backfield for added protection during the whole drive, with Rettig already having been sacked four times in the game by the relentless Maryland rush.
But on this play, Williams got the worst of it and Whitfield managed to push the running back into Rettig, who was holding the ball low looking downfield. The ball was knocked loose but, luckily for the Eagles, didn’t go far and Rettig was able to corral it.
The result was a 7-yard loss, however, setting up second-and-17 from the Terps’ 44.
Rettig wasn’t deterred, going right back to Amidon -- this time on an out-cut to the left sideline that picked up 8 and set up third-and-9.
BC called a timeout to stop the clock and talk it over. Whatever was said, it worked.
Rettig stood his ground in the pocket, getting time from the offensive line to let the play develop, and didn’t flinch even when 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker Darin Drakeford came running free at him. Rettig said afterward he held the ball longer Saturday than he normally would because he needed to give routes time to develop.
Bobby Swigert ran an in-cut over the middle, then stopped and ran back to the right sideline, taking his defender with him. That opened up the middle for Amidon, who ran away from defensive back Jeremiah Johnson on a slant.
Rettig let the ball fly right before Drakeford plowed him to the ground, and Amidon slid to make the catch for a 17-yard gain. The play was reviewed and upheld, as Amidon clearly caught the ball as he was going to the ground.
That combination, the fourth of six straight completions by Rettig to end the game, gave the Eagles a first-and-10 at the 19. Swigert then caught a short pass over the middle, right between two defenders, for 5 yards.
Rettig hurried the offense up to the line, set the play and took the snap with just about a minute left. Amidon was spread out wide to the right, with Johnathan Coleman in the right slot and two receivers to the left.
Amidon ran a slant and took two defenders with him, helped by a pump fake from Rettig. That left Coleman all alone in the flat, and Rettig hit him for an easy score.
“We were throwing this one combination route all day,” Rettig said. “I tried to give them a little sauce on the slant, and Coleman came open. … It worked out for us -- I got rid of the ball quickly, and we scored a touchdown.”
Coleman darted with the ball through the back of the end zone, leapt onto the celebrating Baldwin -- knocking the costumed mascot over -- then ran back to his teammates, greeting Amidon with a head-butt.
“We were running that play all day, and they kept jumping on the slant so I guess they thought we were throwing it to Amidon -- I think he has two or three touchdowns on that play,” Coleman said. “They jumped him and they just forgot about me, I guess.”
The result was a win the beleaguered Eagles, and their fan base, needed badly.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.