DARTMOUTH, Mass. – What’s the old expression that you have to crawl before you can walk? No. 22 BC High football did a little bit of both while capturing its first win of the season in a 31-0 blanking of Dartmouth on Slocum Road.
Hampered by an ever-mounting list of injuries to starters, the Eagles weren’t about to make excuses for themselves and their 0-2 start. So they continued plugging holes, watching younger players step into greater roles. Of course, it always helps when you’re star receiver puts up a 5-catch, 181-yard night as Villanova commit Lincoln Collins did Friday night. But even as Collins was doing big things, it was the little things that sprung the largest gains.
The prime example was Collins’ electrifying 85-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Mired in a competitive 10-0 battle at halftime, the Eagles (1-2) distanced themselves with Collins’ lone touchdown of the game in the third. After starting a drive backed up in their own end, BC High was simply looking for a first down and some field position on a third-and-3 drop back by quarterback Dan Collins (6 of 9, 199 yards). The play call had Lincoln Collins, the rangy 6-foot-4 target, as the right outside receiver. Lincoln’s route a routine 5-yard out on a play designed simply to pick up that crucial first down.
What happened from there took everyone by surprise.
Lincoln shook his defender, using his sizable wingspan to stiff arm the cornerback. Once he wiggled a couple more yards downfield, it was fellow receiver Tim Johnson, who with a downfield block on Dartmouth’s strong side safety, allowed Lincoln space to burn down the right sideline to paydirt.
“That was just all teamwork,” Lincoln Collins said. “Tim [Johnson] came underneath and made a great hustle play.”
From there, the Eagles were off and running with 21 points after halftime to close out an emphatic and much-needed victory.
“We came in as a unit and said, ‘We’ve gotta’ finish it,’” said Eagles head coach Joe Gaff, who also collected his first win as head coach at BC High.
INJURY BUG STRIKES AGAIN
BC High was out to a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Brandon Owens (11 carries, 63 yards, TD) and finding increased success in the running game.
That is until the Eagles were again thrown for a loss.
With less than three minutes to play in the first half, Owens was running a stretch play to the left side when he was met in the backfield by Indians linebacker Dalton Soares. Both players went down in a heap, with Soares taking a nice angle to the ball. However, when Owens cleat was caught in the turf and Soares corralled him to the ground, BC High’s senior back was left on the field grabbing his left ankle.
Owens was assisted off the field flanked by two his teammates and was unable to put pressure on that leg.
Gaff said Owens will be evaluated tomorrow. But the scenario strikes home with the Eagles who’d already lost seven starters to injury coming into Friday’s action.
“I hate to say it, but we’ve gotten hardened to all the guys going down,” Gaff said. “We’ve got seven starters not playing – that’s not an excuse, we’re BC High, we’ve got plenty of guys. They’re stepping up and trying to the best we can. That’s all I can ask from them and tonight they did it.”
It’s also helped the Eagles shape a mentality early in the year.
“Our mentality is plug-in and plug-out,” Lincoln Collins said. “We’ll just keep pushing and we’ll get guys back eventually. We’ve just got to keep going.”
The key to BC High’s defense shutting down the Dartmouth attack was keeping their outside contains. As the Indians (1-2) tried to bounce their running backs outside, they were often met by an Eagles end or outside linebacker – many times at a loss. While Dartmouth has some talented runners in senior captain Mitch Loranger and running back turned quarterback Tim Smith, but BC High was able to all but erase the Indians’ ground game, forcing Smith (who was making his first start under center) to beat them.
There was simply no getting around the outside of BC High’s front seven with Steve Dicienzo, Mitchell Laferriere, Brian Robinson, and Owens doing the duties. Coupled with a strong inside presence from defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, who returned from injury, the rushing lanes largely were unavailable.
“They kept widening and widening, so we tried to run it inside,’ Dartmouth head coach Rick White said. “They took away our outside run, they did a good job of that. Those outside ends were very good athletes.”
ALL’S NOT LOST
While it might not have been the result the Indians were looking for, White and Co. made a statement in adding the Eagles to their 2012 slate. White was pleased with his team’s ability to match BC High’s physicality.
Had the Indians been able to scrape across some points in the first half, the game’s complexion might have been very different. Dartmouth started four of its five first-half drives on the plus side of the 50-yard line, including a first-and-goal from the 7 after a fumble recovery by Eddie Cadorette (2 TFL). Both teams lost fumbles on their respective opening drives. The Indians also missed a 27-yard field goal attempt at the tail end of the second quarter.
“We had three chances to score in the first half of the game and we couldn’t do it,” White said. “That was the difference.”
BUILDING TO A POINT
BC High doesn’t have long to enjoy win No. 1 with New Jersey power St. Peter’s Prep looming.
Next Saturday, the Eagles travel to play the Jersey City school at Rutgers University.
While the Eagles will have their hands full with one of the nation’s top programs, their boss reflected on what last year’s 35-19 loss to St. Peter’s meant to their Super Bowl season.
“We went down there and we competed against two really good teams [St. Peter’s and DePaul] with great speed,” Gaff said. “When we came back, we solved things. As a defense, I know it really clicked for us because we saw faster players. So that’s what we’re hoping for.”