NCF Nation: Chestnut Hill 0814

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Elsa/Getty Images
 Billy Flutie, the Boston College backup quarterback and nephew of Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, threw for a 9-yard touchdown on a fake field goal to help Boston College to a a 28-21 victory over Maryland.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Not only isn't this Matt Ryan's team, it's not even Chris Crane's team anymore.

What Boston College doesn't have, though, has never mattered this season, and it didn't matter in Saturday's 28-21 win over Maryland.

Boston College won the Atlantic Division without Ryan, without a veteran running back, and with its backup quarterback. The Eagles did it with one of the nation's stingiest defenses and a group effort on the day it mattered most. For the second straight season, the Eagles will face Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.

It's the same result, but this year is much different.

There are no Ryan-esque superstars on this Boston College roster, which is why those within the program agreed this year's trip to the ACC title game is even more gratifying than last year's.

It's also why nobody outside the Yawkey Athletics Center expected Boston College to be here.
"That's the best part of it," said coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who is in his second season. "The guys believed they could. That's the whole thing about coaching, getting your guys to believe they can do it. It doesn't matter who's on the field. They're all wearing gold helmets. We had four starters out and it didn't matter. They didn't flinch, they just kept playing.

"When they believe, and the coaches believe, you've got a chance," Jagodzinski said. "Our kids fought. We didn't have to count on anybody this year to help us get into the game. They kept earning themselves into the championship game by winning."

The Eagles closed their regular season with four straight wins. It's the second straight season for Jagodzinski with at least nine wins, as last year's team finished 11-3, the first team to win 11 games since 1940. They can reach that mark again with an ACC title and Orange Bowl win.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Alumni Stadium, there was one fan behind the BC bench holding out an orange, a symbol that once seemed highly unlikely for this undermanned offense.

Starting quarterback Chris Crane, a fifth-year senior in his first season leading the offense, broke his collarbone last week in the win at Wake Forest. He was the fourth starter the Eagles lost to injury this season, along with linebacker Brian Toal, defensive end Alex Albright and receiver Clarence Megwa. It was up to backup quarterback Dominique Davis to lead the offense to the Atlantic Division title in his first career start. He managed the offense well without turning the ball over and finished with a career-high 134 yards passing and two touchdowns.

And as usual, he got some help.

BC scored on offense. They scored on defense, and they scored on special teams. There was even a player named Flutie involved. Billy Flutie, the nephew of BC legend Doug Flutie, completed the first pass of his career -- a nine-yard touchdown on a fake field goal. It was something they had practiced all week.

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Final: BC 28, Maryland 21

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
7:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The Eagles are in.

Boston College will face Virginia Tech next weekend for the ACC championship. It will be the second straight season the Eagles face the Hokies in the title game, but this year's run was more impressive considering Jeff Jagodzinski had less to work with on offense.

Maryland hung around, but it didn't seem as close as the 28-21 score indicated, and that's because BC won the battle up front on both sides of the ball. It was only fitting the Eagles sealed their fate with an interception return for a touchdown, seeing as defense is how they got here in the first place.

Heading down to interviews now, check back later for more on this game and everything else in the ACC.

3Q update: BC 21, Maryland 7

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
6:19
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- During a TV timeout, BC linebacker Mark Herzlich was jumping around and waving his arms in the air with an energy the rest of his teammates picked up on before stopping Maryland on yet another third down.

This defense has been too much for the Terps to handle. Maryland can't seem to go forward without going backwards, too, and much of that is because of Herzlich and his teammates up front. BC is controlling the line of scrimmage and, in turn, the game. The offense actually seems more effective with Dominique Davis running it. He isn't as mobile as Chris Crane, but he might be more accurate.

Maryland bit on the fake field goal attempt and Billy Flutie's nine-yard touchdown pass finally put some distance between the Eagles and the Terps. It was the first career completion for Flutie, and the first career reception for Jordon McMichael.

Boston College is now one quarter away from claiming the Atlantic Division title, and Maryland doesn't appear to be getting in the Eagles' way.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- One thing is clear: Maryland hasn't given up since its loss to Florida State, even though the Terps are no longer playing for the Atlantic Division. It was a stalemate here in Alumni Stadium, where both defenses are making some critical stops, but the Eagles have the better defense and began to prove it late in the half. BC linebacker Mark Herzlich is as good as advertised.

With Ron Brace putting the pressure on quarterback Chris Turner, Herzlich got the first interception of the game. One play later, Dominique Davis threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Rich Gunnell, who was wide open. It took nine seconds to take the lead. This is how BC wins games, though, with its defense. That makes 24 interceptions this season for the Eagles, who lead the nation in that category.

Offensive coordinator Steve Logan is doing a nice job of mixing it up, as Montel Harris has received a few direct snaps, and the Eagles have been able to get some decent yardage out of both running and passing plays. Davis is doing an admirable job, and his offensive line is giving him time. Turner's is not, and it's been a difference in the game.

This is the second game I've seen Maryland have negative rushing yards (the other being at Virginia Tech). It's hard to win when you're one-dimensional and can't convert on third downs.

BC tailback Josh Haden is being evaluated for a right shoulder injury.

1Q update: BC 7, Maryland 7

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
4:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Boston College and its backup quarterback marched right down the field on this Maryland defense. The biggest question coming into this game was how Dominique Davis would handle the offense after taking over for injured starter Chris Crane, and so far, so good.

It took Maryland a while to find its offense, but once it did, it realized it was in the passing game. If the Terps are going to win, they're going to have to do it in the air, because the running game isn't going anywhere against the Eagles. The Terps' offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Chris Turner than it did against FSU, and they've already allowed one brutal sack. On the flip side, BC is going to win with its running game. Davis has shown he can get out of a jam with his feet.

Maryland is without star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has a leg injury, but they're getting some help from their other receivers. Torrey Smith's 43-yard reception set up the score that tied the game at 7.

Greetings from Chestnut Hill

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
2:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Hello from Alumni Stadium, where everything but the press box clam chowda is cold, and the most excitement right now is on four different TVs in here. All of the ACC games are on and I'm keeping an eye on all of them. (WOW, Clemson ...)

  

The Atlantic Division winner will be determined here today. It's also senior day for 14 seniors, and there will be a reunion to honor the 50th anniversary of the 1958 football team, which finished 7-3. Maryland is looking to continue its streak of beating ranked teams. The Terps have knocked off a school-record six straight ranked teams (AP poll), including a nation's best four this season.

Aside from the most obvious (Dominique Davis), here are a few things to keep an eye on today:

1. BC's scoring defense. The Eagles have scored a nonoffensive touchdown in six straight games and have seven total this season. The defense has scored five times on four interception returns and a fumble recovery. Historically, the defense has a tendency to do it against Maryland. The last time the Terps were here, Jolonn Dunbar put them behind 14-0 with fumble returns of 14 and 38 yards. BC scored a third touchdown on an interception return by DeJuan Tribble.

2. Maryland's secondary receivers. With Darrius Heyward-Bey possibly out with an undisclosed leg injury, the roles of redshirt freshmen Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler will be even more important. The Terps have been at their best when other receivers like Danny Oquendo have given quarterback Chris Turner more options. They'll be particularly important considering Maryland is likely to struggle running the ball against this front seven.

3. Maryland's defensive line vs. BC's O-line. So much attention has been paid to the BC defense that these guys have been overlooked. The Eagles average 6-foot-5, the tallest in the ACC, and weigh an average of 307 pounds. They should give Davis plenty of time. Should. They have allowed 15 sacks and paved the way for true freshman running back Montel Harris to have four 100-yard games. Maryland has had 24 sacks this season.

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