On Sept. 21, 1957 Boston College held their inaugural game at Alumni Stadium. Thanks to some string-pulling by then-Senator John F. Kennedy, BC found themselves pitted against a strong Navy team that would go on to finish the year ranked fifth nationally. It was a day of tremendous pride and enthusiasm, as the dedication of Alumni Stadium prior to kickoff was attended by the governor, the mayors of Boston and Newton, and Archbishop Cushing (the namesake of Cushing Hall). On their opening possession, the Eagles got off to a fast start with a rousing 93-yard catch and run touchdown by captain Tommy Joe Sullivan. Yet, Navy would proceed to win by a final score of 46-6 in what The Heights (since The Gavel did not exist yet) merely referred to as “a one sided ball game.” If you desire greater context as to what collegiate football may have looked like at this time, know that Tommy Joe was injured later in the game when he was kicked in the back by an opposing player.
In the 61 years since Alumni opened its gates, BC fans have seen their fair share of highs and lows. While the following list focuses on some of the low points, it is important to note that the program has still had a good deal of success. From 1999 to 2010 they reached a bowl game every year, which at the time was the sixth longest streak in the country, and they have been given a birth in a bowl game in each of the last two seasons as well. Nonetheless, tough losses do happen, and heightened expectations tend to make those losses even more tragic. Without further ado, here is the list:
- Jan. 9, 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Nevada (2010 season)
This is the only bowl game that made the list. Admittedly, a few bowl losses could have taken this spot, such as the one-point loss to Penn State in the 2014 Pinstripe bowl (during which BC missed an extra point in the first half). However, this game featured a couple big names on both sides of the ball.
For the Eagles, one of the few bright spots was Andre Williams, who flashed a preview of his Heisman campaign that would take place two seasons later. Williams started in place of the injured Montel Harris (a great running back in his own right) and showcased his skill with a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Unfortunately, a stifling Nevada defense held BC in check for much of the remainder of the game, as quarterback Chase Rettig threw for just 114 yards along with two interceptions.
For Nevada, it was a tall and athletic senior quarterback named Colin Kaepernick whose unorthodox throwing motion led them to victory. Running a lot of read options, Kaepernick made throws when he needed to, especially down the stretch, in order to close out his phenomenal collegiate career with a victory in a closely contested game.
- Sept. 22, 2018 vs. Purdue
Perhaps recency bias played into this mention. Nonetheless, it was the impetus for this trip down memory lane. Most of you saw the disappointing game, but if you missed it be sure to check out The Gavel’s great coverage here.
- Oct. 18, 2014 vs. Clemson
The 2014 season is often remembered for the upset victory over USC on Red Bandana Night. That same year, BC, led by lightning fast quarterback Tyler Murphy, came tantalizingly close to playing spoiler against both Clemson and Florida State. Florida State beat the Eagles on a last second field goal by Roberto Aguayo, but the Clemson game made the list because missed opportunities against the Tigers left an especially bitter taste in the mouths of Eagles fans. After failing to tally the go-ahead score while in the red zone in the third quarter, BC finally scored its second touchdown to take a 13-10 lead, but a missed PAT after the score would prove costly (a common theme here). With a minute to go and down by four, the Eagles were forced to go for a touchdown, but two dropped passes close to the goal line extinguished BC’s upset hopes.
- Oct. 10, 2015 vs. Wake Forest
The infamous 3-0 loss summed up a 2015 season in which the Eagles boasted the best defense in the nation, yet failed to win a single ACC game. This particular game appears on more than one online list of the “worst” or “ugliest” college football games ever played. In a defensive battle ridden with turnovers and missed field goals, the final sequence was particularly tough. The plays were difficult to put into words at the time and this rings true today. Yet, here's the best recount of what happened:
- With 1:09 to go, the score 3-0 in favor of Wake Forest, BC QB Troy Flutie fumbled on the Wake Forest 8-yard line.
- With 56 seconds to play, Wake Forest RB Matt Colburn fumbled the ball back while Wake Forest was trying to run out the clock, allowing BC to recover the ball at the Wake Forest 11-yard line.
- With 18 seconds left, BC snapped the ball from the Wake Forest 2-yard line. RB Tyler Rouse was stopped a yard short of the goal line.
- Following the scrum, BC tried to get another play off before the game expired. However, they were too slow. BC QB Jeff Smith spiked the ball just after the clock hit zero, cementing the heart-breaking game into the worst of record books.
- Nov. 3, 2007 vs. Florida State
Stipulations were meant to be broken. Nevertheless, this game happened 11 years ago and still earns the number one spot, as it had the highest stakes going into it. Prior to the game, Matt Ryan and co. were undefeated and ranked second nationally. Fresh off his late game heroics the week before against Virginia Tech that kept their undefeated 8-0 season alive, Matt Ryan would go on to throw for 415 yards, but his three interceptions proved too costly. Eagles fans still believed one of Matty Ice’s famous comebacks was possible when down 20-17 with 1:10 left to play—that is until a pick-six simultaneously sealed a 27-17 victory for Florida State and dashed BC’s hopes for an undefeated season.
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