The No. 20 Syracuse Orange arrived in Chestnut Hill on Saturday to spoil Boston College’s senior night, defeating the Eagles in a 42-21 blowout. Syracuse’s 42-point outburst was the most points allowed by BC all season, largely due to a worn-out looking defense. In the end, the Eagles were simply unable to compensate for the offense’s inability to stay on the field, the quick pace of the Syracuse offense, and injuries to the likes of Zach Allen, AJ Dillon, and Will Harris (who was eventually able to return to the game, albeit shaken up).
Nothing seemed to go right for the Eagles, starting with the opening drive. BC managed to drive deep into Syracuse territory but settled for a 33-yard field goal attempt, which sailed left of both the goalpost and netting.
BC struck first on the proceeding drive led by AJ Dillon via 35 rushing yards on four carries and capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Burt, giving Burt his first career touchdown and BC its only lead of the game.
Syracuse evened the score soon after with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Sean Riley. The play, made possible by a completely blown coverage and a lack of safety help, wasn’t uncharacteristic for the BC secondary. Syracuse continued to capitalize on the Eagles' defensive breakdowns throughout the contest.
The Orange forced BC to fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking over at the BC 36-yard line. Eric Dungey hit Jamal Custis with a beautiful 34-yard pass to move into the red zone. Dungey then took the ball to the house himself to gain a 14-7 lead, which Syracuse held for the rest of the game.
Syracuse’s offensive dominance continued into the second quarter with running back Dontae Strickland steam-rolling over the BC defensive line, racking up 51 yards on two carries to start the period. Dungey later scored his second rushing touchdown of the day on a bootleg and would continue to score another, along with three passing touchdowns, before the day was over. Dungey’s six total touchdowns tied the Syracuse single-game record.
Anthony Brown sparked life into the BC offense a few drives later with a 69-yard touchdown pass, but most of the credit belongs to wide receiver Jeff Smith. The ball was severely under-thrown, forcing Smith to turn around and come back for it, yet he still managed to turn on the burners and reach the end zone, all despite having to sacrifice his momentum to make the catch. These accuracy issues plagued the Eagles’ passing attacks throughout the game.
Brown struggled to lead his receivers with passes, and his ball placement often limited the ability of his receivers to break off big gains. Brown finished the game with two interceptions, but he easily could have recorded more if the Syracuse defensive backs had not dropped a couple easy picks.
Momentum continued to swing in Syracuse’s favor as the game moved into the second half. Before the half even kicked off, it was announced that AJ Dillon was unlikely to return to the game due to his nagging ankle injury, a devastating blow to the already stagnant BC performance. The Eagles briefly put up a fight, with defensive back Taj-Amir Torres picking off Dungey and returning the ball 33 yards to set up a 29-yard touchdown from Brown to Ben Glines, but the Orange reestablished their dominance shortly thereafter.
Syracuse transitioned from its aerial attack to a ground-and-pound strategy. They began running down the clock in the third quarter, and the impressive rushing performance of Strickland allowed them to keep moving down the field. Strickland finished the day with 129 yards on 20 carries.
Going into the fourth quarter, BC appeared defeated. The offense played lethargically and even more carelessly than in the previous three quarters. Finally, Syracuse took the final knee to signal the end of the regular season for each team.
Syracuse finishes its season at 9-3 and will look to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2001, when the Orange placed second in the Big East to national champion University of Miami. Alternatively, BC will look to end on a high note with a bowl win in a few weeks after sliding to 7-5 following a three-game losing streak. The Eagles have lost six of their last seven bowl games, including three out of four under Head Coach Steve Addazio, so there is added pressure on the team to perform in its final contest of 2018.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College Athletics.