Boston College 37, Army 17: Bottom line, BC gets win

Eric Avidon

Boston College got the bottom-line result it wanted, a win over Army, but a lot of the lines above the last one were unimpressive for the Eagles.

They were sloppy from the start, and other than a 10-minute stretch spanning the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth never resembled the precision unit that picked apart Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Wake Forest, N.C. State and Georgia Tech to begin the season.

During that span in the second half, however, BC got touchdown passes from Matt Ryan to Ryan Purvis and Brandon Robinson, pulling far enough away from Army to ultimately take a 37-17 decision at Alumni Stadium and move to 4-0 on the season.

"Emotionally, we were flat," said linebacker Jolonn Dunbar. "I think we were complacent in a lot of things, and that contributed to the slow start that we had. We just can't come out like that. You're not going to win games like that."

BC took a 16-7 lead into halftime, but midway through the third period Army kicker Owen Tolson drilled a 26-yard field goal to bring the Black Knights (1-3) within six at 16-10.

That's when the Eagles finally put things together. They responded with a seven-play, 67-yard drive, capped by an 8-yard pass to Purvis that pushed BC's lead to 23-10. Natick's Billy Flutie caught a 6-yard pass for a first down on the drive. After Army turned the ball over on downs on its next drive, the Eagles went 58 yards in 12 plays, Ryan hitting Robinson from 7 yards for the touchdown before the 2-point conversion attempt failed.

BC led 29-10 at that point, with 13:16 remaining, putting the game out of reach.

Army scored with 9:22 left when middle linebacker Brian Chmura picked off Ryan (35-of-51, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INT) and returned the interception 11 yards for a touchdown. BC immediately responded with a score of its own when Andre Callender raced 66 yards to the end zone. The Eagles again went for 2, and Ryan hit Callender for the conversion.

"Ultimately when you put up enough points to get the victory you have to take some positives out of it," said Ryan. "I think we can play better. I think there's room for improvement. ... We're happy to have the victory against a bunch of really tough guys. We'll take the win, and we have to move on and get back to work."

The Eagles dominated statistically, gaining 573 total yards compared with 259 for the Black Knights, and held a 34-7 advantage in first downs. Had they not played a sloppy first half, they likely never would have had a mere six-point lead in the third quarter.

With the Eagles already ahead 9-0 - they botched an extra point - late in the first quarter, Callender dropped a Ryan pass in the end zone. Wide receiver Kevin Challenger dropped the next pass and BC was forced to try a 43-yard field goal. Steve Aponavicius wasn't even close.

On the second play of the second quarter, Challenger caught an 11-yard pass to the Army 3, but coughed the ball up and the Black Knights recovered.

Midway through the second quarter, on a third-and-5 pass by Army quarterback Carson Williams, BC senior linebacker Tyronne Pruitt dropped an easy interception. The Black Knights faked a field goal on the next play, and wound up scoring their first touchdown of the afternoon on the drive, making the score 16-7 at the time.

"Our first half of football was as sloppy as we've played all year and we need to be a lot better," said BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who reportedly delivered a heated halftime speech. "I'm never going to apologize for a win ... but we need to play a lot better than what we did today.

"The first half, that's not what Boston College football is supposed to look like. ... I'm happy we won, but we've got a lot of work to do."

By starting the season so impressively against three conference opponents the Eagles shot up the rankings, moving from the outside looking up at the top 25 to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the USA Today poll. A lot of that was the result of style points, the lines above the bottom one.

The bottom line looked good again yesterday, a win. But the lines above were messy.