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Eagles Begin Hafley Era with Dominant Victory over Blue Devils

After much uncertainty, many obstacles, and mounting anticipation, the BC football season is officially upon us. 

In the first game of the Jeff Hafley era, the Boston College Eagles (1-0, 1-0 ACC) defeated the Duke Blue Devils (0-2, 0-2 ACC) in a resounding 26-6 victory in Durham. 

After a slow first half with only one touchdown to show for, the Eagles left no doubt on the field and went on to score 19 unanswered points, backed by impressive performances from new QB Phil Jurkovec, WR Zay Flowers, and a surprisingly solid BC defense. 

The Eagles got on the board quickly after forcing a three-and-out on the Blue Devils’ first possession. Jurkovec led his offense 81 yards up the field, ending with a David Bailey touchdown up the middle. 

After that first touchdown and gaining possession off a Mark Gilbert interception, the Blue Devils responded with a 49-yard rushing touchdown, courtesy of RB Mataeo Durant. Duke would miss the extra point to make it a 7-6 game.

Thanks to the BC defense, that was all from Duke after that touchdown. 

The defense capped off the first half with two turnovers, despite giving up a lot of yards in the air and on the ground. Still, it made plays when it mattered most and forced both of the turnovers when Duke was in the red zone. 

The BC offense wasn’t clicking just yet, and the game stayed at a score of 7-6 heading into halftime. To give the Duke defense some credit, they held the Eagles to back-to-back three-and-outs and forced one turnover in the first half.

The Eagles finally got it rolling in the second half with Jurkovec showing off some of the pedigree that made him a highly-rated quarterback coming out of high school. He went off in the second half, hitting 11 of 12 passes for 210 yards, and two touchdowns and no turnovers. 

There were some highlight reel plays in the second half from Flowers. He pulled down a wide-open 61-yard touchdown, and then hit the brakes on a short completion to evade his defender and gain some extra yardage in a flashy display.

Tight end Hunter Long also proved why he should be in the conversation for the best in his position around the nation. He had seven receptions for 93 yards, and a touchdown where he got open for a scrambling Jurkovec and pulled down a tough catch for six points. 

Those two second-half touchdowns made the victory a reality. A Jahmin Muse interception secured the win for the Eagles, who finished the afternoon with a score of 26-6. 

There were many surprises from the afternoon, but no surprise was greater than BC's defensive performance. The Eagles racked up five turnovers, especially at times when the team needed them most. 

Last year, the Eagles' defense was easily BC football's most disappointing storyline, but Saturday’s performance should give the team some confidence going into the rest of the schedule. 

The defense’s biggest performers included Josh DeBerry with six tackles and one fumble, Marcus Valdez with one sack and one fumble, and a healthy Isaiah McDuffie with six tackles and one interception.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Head Coach Jeff Hafley. “I thought [Defensive Coordinator Tem] Lukabu called an incredible game.” 

In his first collegiate start, Jurkovec had an impressive day with his new squad; he threw 300 yards (17-23) with two touchdowns and one interception. His chemistry with Long and Flowers had been documented in practice and it showed during the game. 

“I think all of the coaches [encouraged me] and that’s what I love about this team. We had a lot of fun. For me, I hadn’t been out there playing football in so long, getting out there and taking hits was fun.”

A lot of credit should be given to Hafley. With a roster full of holes and unknowns, a season in question, and a sense of normalcy taken away, Hafley secured his first win and did so in dominating fashion. 

“This day will forever be about this team and what they did to get to this point. I’m greatly appreciative.”

The Eagles will play Texas State (1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) next Saturday night at 6pm in a fan-less Alumni Stadium, hoping to build off this week’s momentum. 

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Matt DeMerlis