At a wet Fenway Park, Boston College defeated UConn, 39-16—their 11th straight victory against the Huskies. The Eagles are now bowl eligible for the second straight year and the fourth time in the last five seasons. With this dominant win, Steve Addazio becomes the first head coach in BC history to reach a bowl game in four of his first five years at the helm.
“It was very gratifying for all of us in that locker room,” said Addazio after notching his sixth win of the year.
Losing nine starters to injuries over the course of the season, the Eagles have been leaning on the likes of defensive back Lukas Denis. The junior, who recorded his sixth interception of the year Saturday, expressed the incessant drive of the team day-in and day-out after the game.
“I think it just shows how resilient our team is,” said Denis. “Our mindset is to always fight. We have lost some key players this season but that's just made us want to go harder for those guys.”
UConn jumped out to an early lead, but an ineffective passing game ultimately cost the Huskies any chance to compete with the Eagles' ground game. With starting QB Anthony Brown out for the season with a knee injury, Darius Wade simply had to be a game manager. He finished the game with 55 yards on 7-15 passing with one touchdown. The Eagles’ 39-point run, their longest of the season, simply proved to be too much for the Huskies to overcome.
Despite a slow start, AJ Dillon eventually lead an Eagles’ rushing attack that compiled 330 yards on the night, the second most this season. Dillon, a native of New London, Connecticut, notched his second career 200-yard performance of the year. The Huskies’ front seven simply had too much trouble containing the true freshman running back, who now sits at fourth nationally in rushing yards among all freshmen.
“I've always been told even in high school just playing running back, over time, you start to wear down defenses and that's no matter who you are and what defense you're playing,” said Dillon. “One thing I try to work on coming into bigger games like this is not getting discouraged when you get a negative yard carry. You just have to take advantage of the opportunities that you get.”
The Huskies came out firing on all cylinders. Receiving the opening kickoff, UConn’s junior quarterback David Pindell dumped a deep ball over the Eagles’ secondary for a 50-yard gain just a couple of minutes into the game. Although the drive eventually stalled, the Huskies converted a 50-yard field goal attempt to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Following a couple of stalled drives and a blocked Colton Lichtenburg field goal attempt, the Huskies seemed poised to stick around. A strong UConn secondary held the Eagles to just 66 yards in the first quarter. However, as the Huskies’ defense began to take stride, the Eagles’ defense likewise stepped up to the challenge. An interception in the end zone by Hamp Cheevers in his first career start followed by a Wyatt-Ray-blocked field goal on the ensuing UConn drive kept the game knotted at 3-0 heading into the second quarter.
Trading three-and-outs, neither team was able to attain any offensive rhythm until Wade found a rumbling Tommy Sweeney for a 38-yard pass play midway through the second quarter to bring the Eagles into opponent territory. A few AJ Dillon carries eventually set up a play-action pass that saw Wade roll out to his left and find a diving Chris Garrison for the 2-yard score to put BC on top 7-3.
Three minutes later, a short punt set BC up just past midfield. Yet, the Eagles only needed one play to punch it into the endzone, as Dillon dragged a slew of UConn defenders over the goal line for an impressive 53-yard touchdown run. The young running back showcased his strength once again, pushing the BC lead to 14-3 at the 3:07 mark in the first half.
The Eagles carried their momentum straight into the third quarter. Facilitated by a nice kickoff return at the hands of Michael Walker, the other half of the running back tandem, Jon Hilliman, eventually took a 32-yard run to the house, extending the lead to 21-3 minutes into the second half. The junior finished the night with 107 yards on the ground.
By midway through the fourth quarter, Dillon and Hilliman each added another touchdown to their stats sheet, capping off BC’s 39-point run. Both running backs finished the game with a pair of scores, burying UConn in a 39-3 deficit.
The Huskies did not go down without a fight, adding two touchdowns in “garbage” time on a 70-yard touchdown run by Kevin Mensah and 43-yard touchdown connection between junior wide receiver Hergy Mayala and Pindell. But the comeback was simply too little, too late. By the time the final whistle blew, the Eagles had defeated the Huskies 39-16.
After the game, Addazio was quick to note the bright future for BC Football. “The beautiful thing about it is that we know what an unbelievable future that we have. Most of all those players will be back,” he said. “It is going to bode very well as we go forward.”
The win pushes BC’s record to 6-5, while UConn, losers of four straight, fall to 3-8. The Eagles will take on Syracuse in the regular season finale next Saturday, Nov. 25 at the Carrier Dome.