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Tar Heels Top Eagles Despite Late Game Heroics

Coming off a blowout win against Duke in the first week and an exciting win against Texas State last weekend, Boston College Football appeared more than ready for its next match-up against No. 12 North Carolina, its first game against a ranked opponent this season. 

Even luck was on their side coming into the matchup; the Tar Heels had never won a game wearing their all-white uniforms, which made an appearance on Saturday. 

White uniforms or not, the UNC Tar Heels (2-0, 2-0 ACC) still proved why they were the 12th best team in the country this weekend, handing the BC Eagles (2-1, 1-1 ACC) their first loss of the season in a back-and-forth 26-22 game in Chestnut Hill.

UNC went on the board first with a 12 play, 83-yard drive that was capped off by a Sam Howell (14-26, 225 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) connection to the speedy Khafre Brown to take a 7-0 lead. 

Not discouraged, BC’s Phil Jurkovec marched up the field with a 57-yard drive including a big catch from CJ Lewis for 30-yards. 

The Eagles ended up walking away with three points from an Aaron Boumerhi field goal, but there was a scary sight on the field when Hunter Long took a massive hit from UNC’s Trey Morrison. BC Head Coach Jeff Hafley was not happy with the Tar Heels response after seeing them celebrate the hit.

It seemed like the Eagles took that hit personally because they played with some newfound energy from that point on. 

After the failed onside attempt from Hafley, UNC extended its lead to 14-3 with a quick run up the gut from Javonte Williams. BC needed to respond to prevent this game from getting out of hand. 

And respond they did.

After another Boumerhi field goal to shorten the lead to eight, the Eagles took advantage of a questionable UNC fair catch call on the kickoff to push the Tar Heels back in their zone.

Pressure from a safety blitz forced a disrupted throw from Howell that was picked off by BC’s Brandon Sebastian. That interception set up the Eagle’s first touchdown of the day with a Jurkovec to David Bailey connection that brought the score to 14-13. 

Both teams would score again before the end of the half to make the score 21-16. Even though the Eagles were down to a ranked opponent at halftime, it still felt like the game was in reach, which is an unfamiliar feeling to the BC fan base. 

The Eagles were virtually in control of the game during the second half. The Tar Heels were limited to just three points in the next 30 minutes and Howell could not string together any impressive drives following a solid first half. 

With a score of 24-16 with less than six minutes left, it was “do-or-die” for the Eagles and Jurkovec once again rose to the occasion after marching downfield to score in a five minute drive.

After two penalties set the Eagles back, Jurkovec connected with Lewis to make it a two point game with 45 seconds left. If all went right, a two-point conversion would tie the game and hopefully send it to overtime.

After a fake running back draw, Jurkovec scrambled to his right and set his sights on Long, but Morrison again made his presence known by picking off Jurkovec and running it back all the way to the endzone to give UNC two more points.

The Eagles would lose by the same score of 26-22, but no one on the home sideline appeared discouraged by the results on Saturday. 

Jurkovec was proud of his team despite the loss.

“I love the way that we fought. Everyone loves each other and plays for each other. It’s really hard not to love this team.”

One of the most remarkable stats from the afternoon was how much Jurkovec threw the ball. Jurkovec threw the ball 56 times for 313 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with his receivers 37 times for a 66% completion percentage. 

Interestingly enough, both of those career milestones actually set or tied previous school records. Jurkovec’s 37 completions are a school record and his 56 passing attempts tied the BC record.

BC Defensive Coordinator Tem Lukabu called an impressive game after holding one of College Football’s most explosive offenses to just 24 points. The Eagle’s defense ranks 25th nationally, holding their opponents 369.7 yards per game.

The Eagles should be proud of how they performed on Saturday. Despite a few careless penalties and miscalls from the referees, there was no sign of surrender at any point from this team.

BC Football now sets their sights on a very winnable matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1, 2-1 ACC) next weekend back in Alumni Stadium. Pitt lost its first game of the season on Saturday in a close one against unranked NC State. 

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Matt DeMerlis