Boston Colleges: Chase Rettig

Bowl primer: AdvoCare V100

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
9:00
AM ET
We continue our look at each of the Pac-12’s opponents during the bowl season.

AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Shreveport, La., Dec. 31, 9:30 a.m. PT
Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)

Boston College Eagles

Coach: Steve Addazio (first season)
Record: 7-5, 4-4 ACC
Combined opponents' record: 77-67 (.534)
Common opponents: Boston College lost to USC 35—7 on Sept. 14. Arizona lost to USC 38-31 on Oct. 10, the first game with Ed Orgeron as the interim head coach for the Trojans.
Leading passer: Chase Rettig, 147-238 (61.8 percent) for 1,804 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Leading rusher: Andre Williams, 329 rushes, 2,102 yards with 17 touchdowns.
Leading receiver: Alex Amidon, 67 catches, 903 yards with five touchdowns.
Leading tackler: Steele Divitto (one of the coolest names in all of football), 107 tackles.

What to know: Boston College enters the game in relative good health, though it is worth noting that Williams, who outdistanced Arizona’s Ka'Deem Carey and Washington’s Bishop Sankey for the Doak Walker Award, missed a good chunk of the season finale against Syracuse because of a shoulder injury. All indications are that he’ll be ready to go for this game.

Staring at a 3-4 record, the Eagles closed out the season by winning four of their last five to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. They faced only two top 25 opponents this year and dropped both games, falling to Florida State and Clemson -- though they picked up a signature win by topping Virginia Tech 34-27.

Obviously, the running backs take center stage in this game. Williams leads the nation in rushing this season and Carey led the nation in rushing last year. It's not unlike last year’s New Mexico Bowl, where Carey and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson were vying for the rushing title. Unless Carey has a 600-yard game, Williams can probably feel good about retaining his title.

When Williams rushes for at least 100 yards, BC is 7-2. When he doesn’t, the Eagles are 0-3. It seems pretty clear what the key matchup is for the Arizona defense.

Key matchup: But what about the other side of the ball? Arizona is 6-5 when Carey rushes for at least 100 yards, as he rushed for 100 or more yards in every game he played this season (he missed the opening-week win over Northern Arizona). Boston College’s rush defense is fairly sturdy. It allows 152.8 rushing yards per game -- which is 50th in the country -- and they have only allowed 16 touchdowns on the ground. Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis isn’t far behind Divitto with 104 tackles, and defensive end Kasim Edebali has 15 tackles for a loss on the year to go with 9.5 sacks.

Addazio to Rettig: Ignore the noise

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Though he didn’t come out and say it, Boston College coach Steve Addazio hinted strongly Monday that his starting quarterback is feeling the heat.

Chase Rettig had one of the worst games of his career, statistically at least, on Saturday at North Carolina’s Kenan Memorial Stadium.

The senior signal-caller finished 10-for-20 for just 57 yards and got sacked four times in the Eagles’ 34-10 loss. The yardage total was the second lowest of Rettig’s career, behind only a 32-yard showing against Maryland in 2011 (a game in which he threw just 12 passes, as the running game dominated).

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
AP Photo/Nell RedmondAlthough he passed for just 57 yards in Saturday's loss to North Carolina, Chase Rettig has the unconditional backing of BC coach Steve Addazio.
But Addazio isn’t wavering, despite calls from fans -- on social media, mainly -- for a change under center.

“I told him I’m proud of the way he’s competing and he’s working,” he said of Rettig. “We’re all trying to continue to improve each week and take the things that we need to work on and improve on them. That’s what we’re doing.

“We need him to play with great confidence, we need his experience, we need him to have leadership and know that we’ve got his back and let’s roll.”

Some of Rettig’s stats may be down, especially his attempts per game (21.4 in 2013, down from 38.9 in 2012) and yards per game average (162.9 in 2013, down from 254.6 in 2012), but his yards per attempt average (7.6 in 2013, up from 6.5 in 2012), completion percentage (62.0 in 2013, up from 54.2 in 2012) and rating (142.51 in 2013, up from 115.57 in 2012) are actually up, according to cfbstats.com. That’s because he’s being asked to do drastically different things this season, under yet another offensive coordinator (his fifth in four years).

And against the Tar Heels, Addazio said, there were many things that went wrong in the passing game. There were drops. There were breakdowns in protection. And, yes, there were a few bad decisions on Rettig’s part.

The coach met with the quarterback and a few other players individually on Monday morning, something he likes to do just to take the temperature of his players. Part of his session with Rettig involved tuning out detractors.

“I love Chase, and I just care about how he feels,” Addazio said. “And as the head coach, I know what it’s like: You get too much credit and too much blame. I've got that figured out. To think that a quarterback isn’t feeling, sometimes, the effects of what happens positively or what happens negatively, you’re sticking your head in the sand. Because they care.

“A lot goes on. We might have a play in a game when a lineman was supposed to pull and didn’t and no one really knows that. But when the quarterback has an error, the whole world sees it. So I just think it’s really important that the kids know where they are, where they stand. So it’s not, ‘What are they thinking about me?’ What are we thinking about you? We love the hell out of you. That’s what we think about you. It’s just important that they hear that.”

Late in Saturday’s game, the passing game sputtering, Rettig used his legs to move the chains. On a second-and-10 from the BC 20, Rettig felt the pocket collapsing on a play-action dropback, stepped up and then tucked the ball and ran. He slipped one defender (with a minor assist from a pick by the official), then put his head down and tried to run through another tackler instead of sliding and avoiding contact.

Though that drive fizzled out after two incompletions, Rettig proved he was willing to do what it takes to try to make something happen.

“He’s a competitor. It means the world to Chase,” Addazio said. “He should have come out of the game a little bit earlier and that’s my fault. The game is gone and he’s lowering his head, trying to get a yard. He’s a real competitor. I love his attitude right now.

“He’s devastated, just like I am, just like any competitor is when you put everything on the line and you lose a game in the fashion that we lost that game -- not a lack of effort, absolutely not a lack of effort, and I’d tell you straight out if it was, not a lack of toughness, just incredibly inconsistent.”

The Eagles made too many mistakes to win at UNC. Part of that is on Rettig, but Addazio clearly thinks the QB is taking too much flak.

“Poor decisions were made under duress,” he said. “And that’s something that we’re trying to improve and get better at. And that’s a by-product, sometimes, of a lack of success in the past. And that’s not putting it anywhere other than the fact that it’s my job to come in here and build that.

“We’ve got to play at a high, high level because of where we are as a program right now. And when we do, because we’re so darn scrappy, we’re right in the middle of things. But the minute that -- for whatever dynamic -- dips, we become average quick. ... In that game Saturday, the effort never dropped, the intensity never dropped, that’s the good news.”

The coach wants his quarterback to know that he’s got his back, that he knows he’s not the problem that fans may think he is.

“You’ve got to have great confidence and you’ve got to understand going in that it’s not always going to go right and mistakes are going to happen and those things are going to get magnified,” Addazio said. “But at the end of the day, the guys on the team know who prepares hard every day, they know who competes hard every day. So that’s all you can do. And try not to get too caught up in all that stuff.”

The Eagles were off on Monday, so the players weren’t available. But when Rettig talks to the media, chances are he’ll shrug off any talk of negativity from fans affecting him.

BC’s QB rarely lets the media in on his thinking, preferring to stick to platitudes and move on. He’s got plenty to worry about on the field this week, as Virginia Tech will enter Saturday’s game (12 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN2) first in the country in interceptions (17.0), second in sacks (28.0) and passing defense (157.8 yards per game allowed), third in total defense (248.8 yards per game allowed) and fifth in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).

But as the volume of commentary ratchets up, it’s got to feel good for Rettig to hear he has the support of his head coach.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Chase gives us our best opportunity to win right now,” Addazio said. “He’s an experienced veteran player and a game manager. Chase is where it’s at right now and we’re going to move forward with Chase.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Midseason report: Boston College

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
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A .500 record never looked so sweet.

As the season hits the midseason mark, Boston College at 3-3 (1-2 ACC) has already surpassed its win total from 2012 (two) and is just three wins from a return to bowl eligibility. After the quagmire they slogged through during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the Eagles have played entertaining and competitive football, outside of a 35-7 thumping at USC in their first road game.

Steve Addazio doesn't believe in moral victories, but BC played No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Florida State as tough as anyone has this season. The Eagles lost by 14 at home against (then-No. 8) FSU and by 10 at Clemson. They led the Tigers after three quarters, but couldn't finish off the upset.

The Eagles tried to become a pass-first team in the final season of the Frank Spaziani era, with mixed results at best. Quarterback Chase Rettig became just the fourth BC quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in a season, and wideout Alex Amidon set records for catches and yards in a season. But BC won just two games, struggling to put games away without a reliable run game or a shutdown defense.

Addazio reinstituted the physical, blue-collar mentality that’s always worked best at BC, relying on a massive offensive line and a power run game to set the tone for the team. Defensive coordinator Don Brown installed an aggressive defensive philosophy, and after totaling just six sacks in 2012, the Eagles already have 15 in 2013.

They're a .500 team, but considering the circumstances, things are definitely looking up for the Eagles.

Offensive MVP: Andre Williams. A 6-foot, 227-pound senior, Williams entered the game against Clemson leading the nation in rushing yards (153.6) and attempts per game (26.6). He totaled only 70 yards on 24 carries against the Tigers, falling from first to sixth in yards per game, but Williams, a Schnecksville, Pa., native has topped 100 yards in four of six games and topped 200 yards in two of six.

Defensive MVP: Kasim Edebali. A fifth-year senior co-captain, Edebali leads the Eagles with 3.5 sacks, two more than he had in his career entering 2013. A native of Hamburg, Germany, Edebali has 28 tackles (14 assisted, 14 solo), six tackles for a loss, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He’s a steady presence on a defense that is making strides in Brown’s system, despite occasional breakdowns.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Jameis Winston, Florida State outclass BC

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
9:16
PM ET


NEWTON, Mass. -- Many things go into deciding the outcome of a college football game.

There are carefully crafted game plans going in and in-game adjustments once the rubber hits the turf. There are things the teams can control (effort, execution) and things they can’t (bad bounces, questionable calls by officials).

And sometimes, there are just miraculous plays made by tremendous players.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, Jameis Winston is a tremendous player. And he made a truly miraculous (Eagles fans, read: disastrous) play to put No. 8 Florida State on top for good Saturday afternoon.

“It was devastating giving up that big play before the half,” BC coach Steve Addazio said after the 48-34 loss. “We had that kid on the ground.”

The BC offense, playing it safe, went three-and-out in its final possession of the first half, giving FSU the ball at its own 40 with no timeouts and 50 seconds to go 'til halftime. Winston was sacked on the first play, losing nine yards when Kasim Edebali came around the right end of the line and brought him to the ground.

Devonta Freeman picked up 14 yards on the next play, but the clock was ticking down. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two.

It didn’t seem like Winston would be able to get another play off, but somehow he managed to get his offense set and took the shotgun snap with the clock at 1.

Immediately, the pocket collapsed around him. Mehdi Abdesmad came flying up the middle, but Winston saw him and expertly side-stepped the 6-foot-7, 278-pounder.

Backup linebacker Mike Strizak came around the left side and reached for the QB, but Winston slipped him with a shove of his right arm and stepped up and to the right to find space. His eyes darted downfield and found Kenny Shaw running up the right sideline, with a step on Spenser Rositano.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Eric Canha/CSMThe BC defense just couldn't keep Florida State QB Jameis Winson bottled up.
Winston stepped into a throw from the 41, letting it fly just before absorbing a big blow from linebacker Steven Daniels.

Shaw leaped to make the catch over Rositano’s outstretched arms, falling to the ground just inside the right pylon. Florida State’s sideline went berserk, and the air completely went out of an Alumni Stadium crowd that had been hoping for an upset after a two-touchdown first quarter for the hosts established an 11-point lead going into the second quarter.

“It is upsetting, but we’re in a football game and we’re playing a fast, athletic team that hits big plays,” Edebali said. “When that happens, all you gotta do is come back to the sideline or come back to the locker room, make the proper corrections and keep playing. If you get influenced by that, you shouldn’t be playing football. You gotta forget, you gotta keep playing, and you gotta keep staying motivated.”

Some teams would quit when hit with that kind of body blow, coming a second away from going into the locker room tied with an overwhelming favorite only to see a superior athlete make a spectacular play to give his team a seven-point lead.

To their credit, the Eagles didn’t quit.

Myles Willis returned the opening kickoff of the second half 71 yards, leading to a field goal. When Florida State responded with another scoring drive and then another, the Eagles kept fighting even though the results they were hoping for refused to surface.

“I thought our team played with a lot of pride, a lot of toughness and made plays,” Addazio said. “But I also told them that there’s no moral victories in football. And while I’m proud of their effort -- and I really am proud of their effort -- I want them to absorb that feeling of what it takes to compete with a top-eight team in the country.

“That’s what it’s supposed to be. That’s how you play. That what goes into major college football and winning. ... Feel that, bottle that and understand that and move that forward and then those wins will come.”

Florida State ended up with 489 yards of total offense, Winston providing 67 yards on the ground and 330 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Though BC sacked him four times, the redshirt freshman took care of the ball for the most part (his one interception coming on a deflection) and the Seminoles finished plus-one in takeaways.

“He’s an athletic kid. He makes good decisions. He’s fast,” Edebali said of Winston. “But that couldn’t change our game plan. We still tried to pressure him a lot, and we did that. But he got away a couple times, broke a couple tackles and hit the big plays. We’ve gotta make sure as a defense that can’t happen.”

Chase Rettig tried to rally the BC offense, but the senior’s four passing TDs (a career high) were offset by two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and the Eagles were never able to get closer than 24-20 in the second half.

There were a lot of things the Eagles didn’t do and a lot of things the Seminoles did do. Ultimately, a careful observer could point to many different plays as the tipping point.

But Winston’s great escape and rocket of a TD throw to Shaw -- the QB, in a veteran move, told reporters afterward his wideout made the play happen -- is sure to stand out.

“It was kinda painful to see,” said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, on the sideline for the play, “because I saw the guys just hustling, grinding and trying to bring him down, and he just used his athleticism on that play and he was able to capitalize on that mistake by us.”

Winston made the play, and FSU delivered the knockout blow.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

SoCal native Rettig amped to battle USC

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
10:30
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 Chase Rettig Jared Wickerham/Getty Images BC QB Chase Rettig hopes to lead the Eagles past a talented Trojans team in Los Angeles.
The Eagles’ wake-up call for Tuesday’s practice was early -- before 6 a.m. early.

But at least one Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC) player was up before then, ready to get out onto the practice field to prepare for USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12).

Ian White could tell Chase Rettig is fired up for this week, a homecoming for the Sierra Madre, Calif., native, when he looked at his phone and saw a message from the quarterback.

“Wake-up was at like 5:45 or something like that and at 5:20 I get a text from Chase, ‘Let’s go boys, this is our week. This is when we’ve really gotta show ourselves,’” White said after practice on Wednesday. “He’s really excited for this game. He’s always that type of leader, he’ll shoot texts and stuff like that. But this was 40 minutes before wake-up at 5 in the morning.

“He was ready to go.”

While he didn’t display much emotion in his post-practice huddle with reporters Wednesday, Rettig said he’s looking forward to playing in Los Angeles.

“It’ll be fun,” he said. “I grew up going to USC games and UCLA games. So it’ll be fun to go back home and see some family and my family will be able to see me play live.”

BC coach Steve Addazio said there’s no doubt Rettig has “a burn inside” this week.

“Who wouldn't?” the coach said on his weekly ACC conference call. “You're going home to play. I think any competitor has that feeling. So I know he does, and, yes, I can see it in his eyes. He's still going to keep his personality, [so] he's not over the top. But I can't imagine there is a more excited guy getting on that plane tomorrow.”

Though some players going home to play might find themselves facing a favorite team from childhood, that’s not the case with Rettig.

“I was just an Oregon State fan growing up,” the 6-foot-3, 206-pound signal-caller said. “My mom was a Beaver, so that’s who I rooted for.”

Rettig said USC coach Lane Kiffin recruited him while he was at Tennessee, but soon after the offer came from the Volunteers the QB committed to BC. He hasn’t spent much time on it since, and wasn’t interested in reminiscing about the recruiting process on Wednesday.

There’s too much work to do.

USC fell out of the AP Top 25 after a shocking 10-7 home loss to Washington State, but the Trojans gave up only 222 yards of total offense and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown (the Cougars kicked a field goal and scored on a 70-yard interception return for a TD).

Meanwhile, new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s D leads the nation in rushing defense by allowing just 15 yards per game. The Trojans gave up only 7 yards on 22 attempts to the Cougars.

Coming off a week when lead back Andre Williams piled up 35 carries for 204 yards, BC will no doubt attempt to test that strength. But Ryan Day won’t be stubborn, and if he needs to call more on Rettig he’s shown he will do so.

In the opener against Villanova, Rettig threw 30 times, completing 23 passes for 285 yards and two TDs. He threw just 14 passes in Week 2, with the run game hammering away at the Wake Forest defense.

While USC has been dominant against the run game, it has been just OK against the passing game. The Trojans rank 60th in the country in passing defense, giving up 211.5 yards a game through the first two weeks.

Addazio expects Rettig to play well versus USC.

“Obviously he has to play a great game on Saturday,” he said. “He knows it. Your quarterback is the guy. He's got to play a great game. He's got to get the ball out of his hands and be efficient, and on top of what he's doing and be a leader. I think he'll be all of those things.”

One thing USC does very well is pressure the quarterback. The Trojans lead the country with 11 sacks in their first two games, with three players with two or more sacks already (George Uko with three, and Morgan Breslin and Leonard Williams with two).

If Rettig is able to find Alex Amidon, Spiffy Evans or Dan Crimmins for big gains through the air Saturday, some USC fans -- already grumbling because of the unsettled QB situation, though Kiffin did name Cody Kessler the starter this week, and unusually meek offensive output (18.5 PPG, down from 32.1 PPG in 2012) to date -- might wonder aloud why the Trojans can’t get guys like the San Clemente High grad.

Of course, if the hometown teams had put on a full-court press in recruiting back when Rettig was a four-star prospect ranked the No. 10 pocket passer in the Class of 2010, they might have been able to keep him home. But they didn’t, and he didn’t. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rettig comes home as a four-year starter at BC, and perhaps with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

“It’s exciting to go back,” Rettig said. “I was kind of an under-recruited kid back home. It’s not like I wanted to go to school in California, per se, but obviously when you don’t get seen [during recruiting] and then you come back you just want good things to happen.”

The senior would like nothing better than to help his team win this game, on the road, against a top-tier college football program. And he swears that’s what he’s focused on, even though he’s going to play just 20-odd minutes from home.

“You can’t really look at it like, ‘Oh, you’re going back home. Oh, your whole family’s gonna be there,’” he said. “It’s all about the team and trying to put our team in the best position to be successful on the field.

“It’ll be fun to just be back, but the most important thing is just singing our fight song at the end of the game.”

For Rettig, clearly there’s no wake-up call required for this matchup.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Addazio: "Team really progressed from Week 1"

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
6:49
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Two weeks into the Steve Addazio era, and already Boston College has matched its win total (two) from the last year of the Frank Spaziani era.

And while he was careful to caution that there’s still a long way to go, Addazio couldn’t help but be pleased with what he’s seen so far from his Eagles (2-0, 1-0 ACC).

“The kids are playing hard, the kids are playing together like a team, they’re fighting hard. They’re doing a lot of good things for Week 2,” he said after the 24-10 win over Wake Forest on Friday night. “I thought our team really progressed from Week 1, and that’s ultimately the goal is to get better each week. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us.

“We’ve got a big game this week and we’ve got a chance to fight to be 3-0, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Week 3 brings the first road trip of the season for BC, with the Eagles flying to Southern California to take on USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12).

The Trojans fell out of the AP Top 25 after an unsightly 10-7 home loss to Washington State on Saturday, but Lane Kiffin & Co. remain the toughest test to date for BC.

“We’re not naive, we’ve got a lot ahead of us right now,” Addazio said. “We’ve got a really awfully tough game. We’re flying out to California on Thursday, we’re playing a great football program on the road. And that’s another learning opportunity for our team -- we’ve gotta go on the road together for the first time. And not just on the road, but across the country.”

Going from the sometimes-shaky 24-14 win over FCS Villanova to the at-times-dominant 24-10 win over Wake Forest, the Eagles’ new head coach saw a lot he liked.

“I thought we took a step forward from learning how to prepare like a big-time football team,” Addazio said. “I thought we took a step forward [because] we came out with more confidence and [didn’t] wait for someone else to make a play. And guys had to stand up and be accountable. Those are all really important pieces in the building of everything right now.”

The Trojans’ defense has produced 11 sacks through two games, best in the nation. Junior defensive lineman George Uko leads USC with three sacks, and linebacker Morgan Breslin and defensive lineman Leonard Williams each have two sacks.

With that in mind, protecting quarterback Chase Rettig will likely be a key topic in Chestnut Hill this week. Especially after the offensive line had a few hiccups against Wake Forest in Week 2, giving up three sacks and losing left tackle Matt Patchan to a hip injury in the second half.

“Are there things we need to get better at?” Addazio said postgame. “Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know why our protection buckled today, but it did. I thought we had great play-action but I thought our drop-back game … we just didn’t look clean in there. That’s something I want to continue to work on.”

Rettig threw only 14 passes on Friday night, going 7-for-14 for 123 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as the Eagles focused on running the ball in an attempt to control the clock and wear down the Demon Deacons’ defense. Andre Williams, coming off a week without practice as he nursed a hamstring injury and a cold, carried the ball 35 times for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown in the win.

It was the fewest passing attempts for Rettig since 2011, when he had 13 against NC State and 12 against Maryland. In 2012, Rettig never had fewer than 29 passing attempts.

But the senior didn’t mind ceding the spotlight to Williams, choosing to instead focus on the result for BC.

“It’s awesome to be 2-0,” Rettig said. “It just is a credit to our hard work. We’ve just gotta continue to work really hard. We’re gonna get out of it what we put in.

“The best thing about being 2-0, our coaches always tell us, is we’ve got a chance to be 3-0.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Good start to Addazio era as BC beats Nova

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
3:30
PM ET


NEWTON, Mass. -- The Steve Addazio era is officially underway at Boston College, and while it didn’t start exactly the way they drew it up, the Eagles will take it as they used a strong second half to beat visiting Villanova 24-14.

How it happened: The visitors seized the momentum immediately on Saturday.

Villanova won the coin toss and elected to receive, quickly moving the ball to midfield after a touchback on the opening kickoff. After the BC defense stopped the Wildcats on a third-and-short, with linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis shooting the gap and hitting the back in the backfield, longtime Nova head coach Andy Talley pulled a fast one.

The Wildcats lined up to punt on fourth down but it was a fake, the handoff going to junior Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who took it 47 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

While the BC offense answered with a TD drive of its own, the defense struggled to contain Nova’s dual-threat QB, John Robertson. Making plays with his arm and his legs, Robertson led the Wildcats to another TD and a 14-7 lead at the half.

Addazio must’ve said something right during the intermission, as the Eagles took control with the first drive of the third quarter. Chase Rettig moved the offense with short passes to David Dudeck and Bobby Wolford out of the backfield, then hit a big play on the Nova D.

Alex Amidon got behind the Wildcats’ D, running free up the right hash marks. Rettig hit him and Amidon sprinted to paydirt for a 49-yard TD.

The play tied the game at 14 and swung the momentum to the home team. After the defense forced Nova to punt on its next two possessions, Rettig hit Wolford out of the backfield for a 34-yard catch-and-run up the right sideline and on the next play Andre Williams found daylight to the same side and rumbled down the sideline for a 26-yard TD and a 21-14 lead.

BC wouldn’t trail again.

What it means: BC now holds a two-to-one edge in the all-time series with Villanova, the Eagles going 30-15-1 in 46 games against the Wildcats.

The Eagles also managed to realize the first of their two stated goals -- to win the opener and get bowl eligible -- from preseason.

Williams tweaks hamstring: Williams carried 23 times for 104 yards and the go-ahead 26-yard TD, but had just one carry after that and left the game with a hamstring injury. He was spotted on the sideline in full pads in the fourth quarter.

Up next: It’s a short turnaround for BC, as the Eagles host Wake Forest on Friday night (8 ET on ESPN2, WatchESPN) in both teams’ ACC opener.

The Demon Deacons opened their 2013 season with a 31-7 win over Presbyterian. Tanner Price, Wake’s fourth-year starter at QB, led the charge against the Blue Hose, completing 14 of 25 throws for 219 yards and a TD and rushing 14 times for 31 yards and another TD.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Eagles coach and QB on the same page

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
4:46
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Because of the circumstances, it was never going to be a long relationship.

Steve Addazio is entering his first season as the head coach at Boston College at the same time Chase Rettig is entering his final season as the starting quarterback.

So while Addazio is planning long-term, Rettig couldn’t be blamed for thinking short-term. He’s got dreams, like most kids his age in his situation (those magic letters N-F-L must dance through his mind when it’s not otherwise occupied).

Would you fault a soon-to-be 22-year-old for putting himself first once in a while?

But that’s not at all what the new coach has seen from his quarterback so far.

Instead, less than a week before preseason camp started, Addazio ticked off a list of things about Rettig that has impressed him.

“Unselfish; really cares about the team; wants to have a great year for the team; really into what we’re doing,” Addazio said. “He’s a guy who could easily say, ‘Oh, I’ve had all these coordinators,’ and could play that whole routine. No. He gets it. He’s a sharp guy and he gets it.

“He’s all about maximizing our team. I really like him a lot.”

And while it’s true that Rettig has had a lot of offensive coordinators, with Ryan Day making five in the four years he’s been in Chestnut Hill, he’s not using it as an excuse. Instead, the senior told reporters at ACC media day that by this point he’s used to learning a new system and is ready to help teach it to his younger teammates.

Raising a few eyebrows, Rettig said he feels “like I’m a professional.” But the 6-foot-3, 206-pounder wasn’t talking about getting paid, he was talking about his approach to the work.

That’s something his new coach appreciates.

“I told him, ‘You know, you’re gonna get measured. Quarterbacks are measured by their ability to win. We’ve gotta win games,'" he said. “That’s what it is. He’s gotta be a leader.”

Rettig will have to lead BC’s offense knowing that his new coach has made it abundantly clear that ideally he prefers a dual-threat quarterback to run his system.

“I just think that’s where it is in college football,” Addazio said. “You’ve gotta extend plays in college football, in my opinion, and I think that’s what a dual-threat quarterback will help you do, extend plays. I don’t mean the guy’s gotta be an option guy, necessarily, I’m just saying a guy who can extend plays, keep you alive, keep the chains moving. Go get 7 yards and get down on third down.”

But since Rettig is not exactly the fleetest of foot, Addazio and Day will adapt their offensive game plan for this season to fit the Sierra Madre, Calif., native. The pocket passer became the fourth quarterback in BC history to crack the 3,000-yard mark in a single season, throwing 463 times (completing 253) for 3,055 yards and 17 touchdowns (with 13 interceptions) in 2012.

“We’re gonna establish a run game,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna do that, because you can’t win if you don’t have any kind of run game. But the rest of it, I think you’ve gotta match to what you are and who you have.

“Chase is not a runner. We’re not gonna start running the heck out of Chase. So how do we accentuate his ability to throw the football? We’ve gotta have a run game.”

The Eagles finished last in the ACC in rushing last season, averaging less than 100 yards a game as a team.

Expect Addazio’s first order of business this summer to be addressing that deficiency, one that is especially glaring at a school like BC, which in its heyday was known for a lockdown defense and a physical running game.

From the sound of it, you can also expect to hear more praise of the player taking the snaps this season.

“I think he’s gonna really be that guy this year,” Addazio said of Rettig. “That’s my gut feeling, if he stays healthy.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

All eyes on Rettig as BC opens spring

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
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When Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig takes the field to open spring practice today, he will be learning from his fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

At least there will be some familiarity with Ryan Day, who was Boston College receivers coach from 2007-11, before leaving to join Steve Addazio at Temple in 2012. Day returned to BC when Addazio was hired, and both are now charged with trying to jump start the offense while easing their players into a new system.

Again.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonBoston College QB Chase Rettig has proven that he can put up big numbers. Now he must show that he can be a leader.
Addazio said the staff plans on keeping as many alike principles and alike terms as they can. But even still, Rettig and his teammates have to learn an offense that will be different from the pro-style set the Eagles ran last season.

"The fact of the matter is I’ve talked to Chase and other guys about it, all these guys have ambitions to play at the next level, and that’s part of that, too. There’s a lot of turnover, there’s a lot of change," Addazio said in a recent phone interview. "A zone play is a zone play, and a quick game is pretty universal, protections are universal, six-man, five-man, seven-man protections are pretty universal.

"So it’s not too crazy. Sometimes it’s more formation, calls, that’s what it is more than anything else. How you’re reading coverages and progressions in the throw game. One thing here is our guys are very bright guys. And I think one thing we do very well here is pick things up pretty quickly."

Though Addazio has a history of running a spread-type offense, he insists he will not try to fit a round peg in a square hole -- and he wants to be able to establish the run first and foremost.

Whether the Eagles have the personnel to get that done right away remains to be seen, as they were not very good in that department last year. But they do have the luxury of returning an experienced quarterback who threw for over 3,000 yards last season with 17 touchdown passes.

So what does Addazio want to see out of Rettig this spring? Rather than discussing Xs and Os improvement, Addazio wants to see Rettig work on his leadership.

"Chase is a guy who throws the ball well, and that’s a positive," Addazio said. "That’s a piece, but the biggest piece is winning. At quarterback -- whether he’s a thrower, whether he’s a runner -- it’s kind of irrelevant. What’s relevant is he’s got it, and he’s got the ability to lead and find a way to win. What we’re working on right now is getting our seniors and getting our players at a position like quarterback, like Chase, to understand how important his leadership, his demeanor, his ability to drive a football team, how important that is.

"To me, the quarterback on offense, that’s huge. The linebacker on defense, those are the apexes of your team on both sides of the ball and those guys have got to have 'it.' Sometimes today, everybody gets tied into talking about this guy runs really well or this guy spins it really well. All those things are important but what’s really important is the ability to lead, the ability to win. Buying into that mindset is really critically important because we’re coming off two years that aren’t representative of what Boston College has been. We’ve got to make sure that we develop that kind of leadership."

BC players offer support for Spaziani

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
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Frank SpazianiAP Photo/Winslow TownsonThe Eagles are still backing Frank Spaziani, who has at least one more game as head coach.
NEWTON, Mass. -- Things haven't been this bad at Boston College in a long, long time.

There was the 0-11 season in 1978 that ended with a loss in Tokyo. There was the 2-9 season in 1989, sandwiched between a 3-8 season and a 4-7 season.

But since Tom O'Brien posted an 8-4 record in 1999, the Eagles hadn't recorded a single losing season and had played in 12 straight bowl games.

Until the past two seasons, that is. The bottom has fallen out on BC under head coach Frank Spaziani, who has seen the record fall from 8-5 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, to 4-8 in 2011 to the current 2-9 in 2012.

Yet during Thanksgiving week, a number of Eagles made it clear that there's still plenty they are thankful for.

"We all owe a debt of gratitude, both for the chance and then for his belief in all of us that we can go out and get it done," fifth-year senior and offensive co-captain Emmett Cleary said of the only head coach he's ever played for.

"It's been bad this year, but you have to believe in the process more than you believe in the results you're seeing. I think a lot of this isn't Coach's fault, and I just hope he has his job season opener next year."

They've heard the rumors that Spaziani won't survive the end of the season. How could they not hear them? After all, Cleary said, they're on campus, too.

After a second straight losing season and with a new athletic director (Brad Bates) in charge at Boston College, Spaziani might be coaching his last game at NC State on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3).

A loss to the Wolfpack would produce just the second season with double-digit losses in school history.

Coming as it has on the heels of a 4-8 season in 2011, the 2012 season seems to show that there just isn't enough progress being made on Spaziani's watch.

But is Spaziani entirely to blame? His players aren't so sure.

"If I'm in position to make a block and I don't make it, I'm not gonna blame somebody for calling the wrong play," Cleary said, pointing out that the players are the ones on the field. "It's toughness, discipline and just kind of approaching the game the right way that he's instilled in this team. We've had a rough season but those lessons work for football and they work for life. Nobody's lost sight of that, I think.

"With all the criticism, frankly, it's been good watching Spaz kind of model what he's been preaching for years now. You just have to worry about the day-to-day things and just keep working and that's ultimately what causes success in this world."

It also would've helped if Cleary's class had stuck around after 2008.

"We've talked about this hundreds of times among the older guys," Cleary said. "I think a lot of these games were lost three or four years ago, when my signing class -- which was, I think, 36 including walk-ons -- [decided to leave BC, and now] there's nine of us left. It's hard to win when you don't have experienced players and experienced depth.

"We've had a lot of young players playing and they've really played their asses off these last couple years, but I think you'd prefer to have those guys redshirt and have experienced backups when injuries and losses happen."

When Jeff Jagodzinski brought in Cleary and the rest of this season's crop of fifth-year seniors, the program was riding high. Cleary's redshirt year, 2008, the team was in the ACC championship game -- just as it had been the year before.

Then Jagodzinski interviewed for a job in the NFL, former athletic director Gene DeFilippo fired him and hired Spaziani, who had been the defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2008.

While hiring Spaziani meant there remained some continuity on the coaching staff, whenever there's a coaching change there will be some impact on recruiting.

"The reality is this, when you chop up recruiting, it doesn't show right away," Spaziani said before practice Tuesday. "It has unintended consequences that happen later on. … At Boston College you have to identify talent, you have to develop it and you have to have some continuity with it. There's other issues besides that. [But] that's a contributing factor."

The Eagles don't like talking about this kind of thing. It's too close to an excuse, and making excuses isn't how they operate in the Heights.

But it's true that it was an issue that they've had to navigate. Last season, the Eagles had 12 seniors. This season, they have 16 -- only eight of them significant contributors.

That makes it hard to win.

It hasn't helped Spaziani that the trend in college football has been toward giving coaches less time to succeed, rather than more, in the age of information.

(Read full post)

BC desperate to win finale at NC State

November, 21, 2012
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NEWTON, Mass. -- Though the team fell far short of its goals this season, losing far more than it won, there's still one more game to play for Boston College in 2012. And as competitors, the Eagles say there's no way they give anything less than their all.

What's the difference between a two-win season and a three-win season? It's simple: one win.

Anyone can do that math, with or without a Boston College education. And you better believe the Eagles have run the numbers.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
Bob DeChiaraBC QB Chase Rettig is keen to end the season on a winning note.
They want this one, badly.

"It doesn't matter how ugly a win is, we've just gotta find a way to win football games," quarterback Chase Rettig said. "Because that's what burns the fire for the next game and the next game, you just wanna keep winning as much as you can as a player and as a coach, obviously."

After each of their wins this season, at home versus Maine and versus Maryland, the Eagles talked about what a boost a victory the previous week gave them. And after losses, they've talked about keeping an even keel.

They've talked about the latter a whole lot more than they would've liked.

"We were close this year a whole bunch of times," Rettig said. "We just gotta find a way to get over the hump. And I don't think there's any magical equation or anything like that; we just gotta keep having a good work ethic. There's only so many things you can do; someone's gotta make a play to win the football game."

BC opened the season with a 14-0 lead on Miami, only to lose that game 41-32 when it couldn't keep up with the Hurricanes in the second half. In the literary world, they would call that foreshadowing.

The Eagles led late at Northwestern and Army, only to lose each game. BC scored late to take a lead on Virginia Tech, only to allow the Hokies to tie the game with just more than a minute left in regulation and win it in overtime.

That last loss came on Senior Day at Alumni Stadium, making the pain last a little longer in the Eagles' minds.

Saturday's matchup with NC State (6-5, 3-4 ACC) represents the last hurrah for the team's seniors, and before a practice this week a few of them talked about what the past four or five years have been like.

(Read full post)

Brutal finish for Eagles on senior day

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
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Frank SpazianiAP 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.

[+] EnlargeDave Dudeck
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonIt was all over for BC when David Dudeck came up short on fourth down in overtime.
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.

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.

BC fails to cash in on chances

November, 11, 2012
11/11/12
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NEWTON, Mass. -- The odds were always long.

The chance of Boston College actually reviving the ghosts of 1993 and 2002, years when it upset previously undefeated editions of Notre Dame and ruined any Irish title hopes, was slim. The Eagles came into the prime-time matchup 2-7 (1-5 ACC) in 2012.

Yet they had chances to put a serious scare into the heavily favored guests, once early and once late.

But as has been the case all season, the Eagles couldn't capitalize when it was all on the line and fell 21-6 to the fourth-ranked Irish.

[+] EnlargeTroy Niklas
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireNotre Dame never looked back after going up 14-3 on this Troy Niklas touchdown catch.
With Notre Dame driving, leading 7-3 in the second quarter, Steele Divitto forced and then recovered a fumble for BC. The play gave BC the ball at its own 26 and an opportunity to engage the capacity crowd and swing momentum in its favor.

But the Eagles' offense couldn't turn the possession into points, ultimately forced to punt after Chase Rettig's pass for Alex Amidon was broken up on third-and-10 from the Irish 40-yard line.

"We were in third-and-long a lot, which has kind of become something consistent in other games prior to today," Rettig said. "We've gotta be better on first down."

After the Eagles couldn't convert, Everett Golson and the Irish executed a methodical 16-play, 87-yard scoring drive. The possession ate up 8:30 and culminated in a 7-yard TD pass from Golson to Troy Niklas that put the visitors up 14-3.

The second chance came late.

With the Irish again driving after an Eagles field goal, leading 21-6, another BC linebacker separated the ball carrier from his cargo. Sean Duggan stripped Theo Riddick after an 8-yard gain, the ball ending up in the hands of Spenser Rositano.

The play gave BC the ball on the Notre Dame side of the field, at the 48. A touchdown now, and it would be a one-score game (assuming a two-point conversion, somewhere along the line).

But again, the Eagles' offense failed to convert the turnover into points. They got as far as the 37, then it all came tumbling down.

"We were moving it pretty well in the beginning and then I think just give a lot of credit to their defense," Amidon said. "They were just making plays and we weren't. That's what it came down to, we weren't making as many plays as they made."

After three plays produced an incompletion, a loss of three yards and a 5-yard gain over the middle, BC faced a fourth-and-8 from the 35. Rettig dropped back to pass and almost immediately was under heavy pressure. The QB went down, attempting to flip the ball forward as he fell and turning the ball over on downs.

(Read full post)

Will 3rd time be charm for Rettig vs. Irish?

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
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Chase Rettig and Manti Te'oUS PresswireChase Rettig and BC's offense face a tough test against Manti Te'o and Notre Dame's defense.
NEWTON, Mass. -- Chase Rettig remembers it well.

He walked out of the tunnel at Alumni Stadium for the first start of his career. The lights were on. The stands were full. The fans were raucous.

Notre Dame was in town for a prime-time edition of the Holy War.

In a perfect world, Rettig not only wouldn't have started -- he wouldn't have even been on the depth chart.

The Eagles loved Rettig's potential, and they were hoping that sophomores Dave Shinskie and Mike Marscovetra could get them through the 2010 season at quarterback. That would allow them to redshirt the highly regarded Rettig, giving him a year to adjust to the college game before being thrust into the fray.

But this is not a perfect world. Far from it, in fact.

So during a lifting session on the Sunday after the third game of the season, head coach Frank Spaziani had a message for his true freshman signal-caller: "We're going to give you an opportunity."

That's how Rettig remembers it. It wasn't an anointing, an instant elevation from bench to starter. Rather, it was a suggestion that his time might be coming sooner than expected.

"I was just really excited," Rettig said. "It was all happening so fast."

Things did not go as he hoped in the beginning. His first four attempts were incomplete, and the fifth attempt was complete to Sterlin Phifer but resulted in a 1-yard loss.

"The first couple series everything was going so fast," Rettig said.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaBC QB Chase Rettig's first career start came in 2010 against Notre Dame, but he exited with a sprained ankle.
"It was such a big stage to start a game on, a night game against Notre Dame," wideout Alex Amidon said. "So you kind of expect the start that he had. But then he started getting into a little rhythm."

Rettig hit his next throw, to Chris Pantale, then had his first big play, finding Bobby Swigert for a 58-yard touchdown.

"Once we scored it slowed down," Rettig said, "and then unfortunately I got hurt."

He sprained his ankle and had to come out of the game. Marscovetra came on in relief in the second quarter, handling the snaps in the rest of the eventual 31-13 loss.

But the day's message was clear: Rettig was the future, and his time had arrived.

When Rettig takes the field against No. 4 Notre Dame on Saturday night (8 ET, ABC), the Fighting Irish will be facing a mature passer who's finally producing as the Eagles always thought he could.

(Read full post)

Eagles come up big in crunch time

October, 27, 2012
10/27/12
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Spenser Rositano AP Photo/Michael DwyerSpenser Rositano intercepted this Maryland pass to clinch BC's clutch comeback.
NEWTON, Mass. -- It was a true make or break moment.

A couple of Maryland freshmen had just combined on a 66-yard scoring play -- QB Caleb Rowe to wideout Stefon Diggs -- to complete the comeback from 13-0 and put the Terps on top 17-13. There was 8:47 to go in the game, and Boston College had to make something happen.

Chase Rettig led the Eagles' offense back onto the field, needing to go 70 yards for a score.

To that point in the afternoon, BC was 0-for-10 on third down.

But the Eagles finally converted one, with Rettig finding Chris Pantale for 8 yards and a first down on third-and-2. It seemed like momentum might actually be building for a potential winning drive.

And then disaster struck. Joe Vellano sacked Rettig and forced a fumble that A.J. Francis recovered. Maryland had the ball back, and if BC was to have a chance its much-maligned defense would have to get it back.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
Bob DeChiaraChase Rettig led BC down the field for the game-winning TD.
"When I was coming off the field, the defensive guys obviously told me 'We got your back. We're gonna get a stop,'" Rettig said. "It worked out well."

The defense forced the Terrapins to go three-and-out and gave Rettig and the offense one more shot. The junior quarterback didn't waste it, completing passes to four different receivers and standing his ground and taking a big shot from a Maryland defender to complete a 17-yard pass to Alex Amidon on third-and-9 from the Terps' 36-yard line.

That diving catch by Amidon set up a 14-yard score to Johnathan Coleman two plays later, giving BC back the lead at 20-17 and propelling the Eagles to their first ACC win.

"What can I say?" BC head coach Frank Spaziani said. "It was an exciting, exhilarating victory and I can't say enough about the job that the kids did to hang in there. We struggled on offense but were able to make a bunch of plays at the end."

It started with the defensive stop after the turnover.

"It was a big momentum swing," linebacker Nick Clancy said. "Getting the D off the field and not having the offense capitalize on that stop was frustrating. But the attitude of our defense was almost like we wanted to be back out there. I've never seen our D-linemen so fired up to get back out on the field and our DBs so ready to play. I think that was a huge part of why we were so successful today.

"It was almost like we wanted to be out there and have the game on our shoulders."

For a unit that's struggled all season -- and that had struggled at times earlier in the afternoon -- to make big plays when it needed to, that was important.

But it wouldn't have meant anything if the offense, which had failed to do much of anything for most of the game against Maryland's solid defense, hadn't come through.

They were ready for the challenge.

"That's kind of been our mindset, just let us have the ball with two minutes left and we'll go win the game," Amidon said of the offense's stepping up late with the game on the line.

Rettig was exemplary on the final drive. The junior went 8-for-12 for 90 yards and a TD on the series, bumping his final numbers for the day to 21-for-39 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.

He kept it together in crunch time, even recovering his own fumble after the Maryland pass rush pushed his own offensive lineman into him and knocked the ball loose.

That's not something this Boston College team has proven especially adept at this season. The Eagles have come up short in those situations more often than not, leading to the five-game losing streak they were on coming into this afternoon's matchup.

"The last five weeks have been tough, obviously," Rettig said. "Offensively we've done some good things this year and people have taken notice, but we could've done more in other games. It's just nice that we finally put it together at the end of the game there and scored a touchdown."

The win is BC's first against an FBS opponent, and improves the record to 2-6 overall, 1-4 in the ACC.

"It feels great," Amidon said. "It doesn't fix everything, it just feels awesome."

And while the win was far from perfect -- with the Eagles giving up four sacks, fumbling on the goal line on their second offensive possession and finishing just 3-for-13 on third down conversions -- Spaziani said it delivered a message.

"It's a confirmation for me of what we believe in, and what those kids have in them," he said. "I'm glad they were able to get the result. See I know it's there, and I know how to get it out of them. But they're young, 18, 20, 21, 22 years old and they need to have something like that."

Asked what the win meant, Spaziani said, "It was like" -- then he paused and took a deep breath -- "the next breath of air.

"We were at the end of our rope there a little bit. It was good to get that one and hopefully we'll get some confidence and continue on and get better."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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