On a gloomy parents' weekend at Alumni Stadium, the injury-riddled Eagles came out victorious, 28-8, against the Central Michigan Chippewas, picking up their first home win of the season and breaking a three-game losing streak.
Of Jon Hilliman's three touchdowns, the first was driven by a short series three minutes in to the game. Michael Walker, on his first punt return, claimed 61 yards to bring the ball to the Chippewas’ six yard line. The run was followed by a six-yard rushing touchdown for junior Jon Hilliman and a successful extra point attempt by junior Colton Lichtenberg, putting the Eagles (2-3) on the scoreboard, 7-2, with 10:33 remaining in the first. Walker would end the game with an average of 32 yards per punt return.
“I mean, especially with today’s they were doing rugby punts so there wasn’t much hang time. So if I didn’t see anyone there I could run full speed and hit it, said Walker, explaining his return strategy.
One of the most thrilling aspects of the Eagles’ offense derived from the synergy of the running back duo of Hilliman and freshman AJ Dillon. While Hilliman recorded three touchdowns—his career high for one game—and Dillon recorded only one, Dillon amassed 120 rushing yards to Hilliman’s 89.
BC Head Coach Steve Addazio commended the duo, “And so the two of those—those two guys combining together, I think there’s a really nice kind of flow there right now.”
The steady Eagles’ defense—one that managed to hold Clemson to just seven points entering the fourth quarter last week–had another remarkable outing. Junior Zach Allen snagged one sack and one interception, the interception being a career-first.
The FBS leader for interceptions, Lukas Denis, registered two interceptions, one of which he carried for a 58-yard gain. The junior now has five interceptions on the season.
Although every Eagles unit contributed its share to the victory, the win did not come without avoidable mistakes by the Eagles.
A 42-yard punt by Central Michigan’s Jack Sheldon landed at the Eagles’ one yard line early in the first quarter, resulting in a safety that would give the Chippewas (2-3) their only lead of the game at 2-0.
In the fourth, Denis’ 58-yard gaining interception was followed by a forced fumble two plays later at the Chippewas’ 22-yard line. In addition, the Eagles could not capitalize on a turnover that occurred three plays later at the Chippewas’ 24 yard line, as Dillon then fumbled the ball on his way to the Chippewas’ three-yard line.
As the pile of players dispersed following the fumble, Dillon was stayed on the ground. Eventually, he managed to slowly walk his way to the bench, indicating what might have been a small injury–from an avoidable costly mistake.
Overall, the Eagles played much better football than they had previously. The special teams were still providing valuable “hidden yardage” said Addazio. The defense kept the opposing offense in check, and the offense capitalized on the positioning provided by its team. The last piece of the puzzle for the Eagles would be to play disciplined football for a full four quarters.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Brown, while nursing a sore shoulder after the game, mentioned, “It’s always important to win your games. We only have 12 shots. That was five. Sixth one is coming up against a really good team, and it really helps our confidence and keeps us building, and we’ve just got to get ready to go.”
The added boost of confidence for the Eagles will be crucial as they face No. 12 Virginia Tech next Saturday at Alumni Stadium.