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Big Plays & Takeaways Propel Boston College Past VT

By Dave Holcomb
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Thanks to five takeaways and an average of 10.2 yards per pass, Boston College came away with the victory, 35-28.

On an afternoon filled with shocking upsets in the SEC and lopsided victories in the Big Ten, the ACC provided some entertaining, high-scoring football. Highlighting the ACC-slate was a seesaw matchup between Boston College and Virginia Tech.

For different reasons, both the Eagles and Hokies ended 2018 on a sour note and were hoping to start anew to begin 2019. Thanks to five takeaways and an average of 10.2 yards per pass, Boston College came away with the victory, 35-28.

Boston College finished second in the ACC last year with 26 takeaways but so often, it seemed as though the Eagles wasted those extra possessions a year ago. That didn’t happen Saturday.

On two of its five possessions following a takeaway, Boston College scored touchdowns, and while the Eagles didn’t score off the other three turnovers, the defense may have taken points away. Two of Boston College’s three interceptions of Hokies quarterback Ryan Willis came in the end zone.

One of those two interceptions was from the Boston College 17-yard line with 35 seconds left in the first half. At that time, the Eagles were leading 28-14, but Virginia Tech looked poised to at least move into field goal range to cut into the lead. The Hokies were also set to receive the kickoff to begin the second half.

Instead, Willis’ carelessness at the end of the second quarter resulted in a completely different feeling in the Virginia Tech locker room at halftime. The Hokies also punted on their first possession of the first half. Willis threw his next interception in the end zone from the Boston College 30-yard line on the following possession.

Essentially, those lost points and the Boston College touchdowns following two takeaways was the difference in the seven-point Eagles win. Junior quarterback Anthony Brown also had his most efficient day passing since last September.

Brown completed nearly 57.7 percent of his passes, which still isn’t a great mark but about two percent better than his completion percentage from a year ago, while averaging 10.6 yards per pass attempt. Before Saturday, Brown hadn’t posted a yards per pass average that high since Week 3 of 2018.

The junior signal caller threw two touchdowns, both of which were at least 17 yards in length. The first one was a 33-yard strike to wide receiver Zay Flowers.

The Brown-Flowers touchdown happened less than three minutes into the game, giving Boston College an early lead. Virginia Tech responded with two straight touchdowns to take the lead, but Boston College answered that response with the next three trips to the end zone before halftime.

Brown finished the afternoon accounting for 290 yards and three total touchdowns. Junior running back A.J. Dillon didn’t have a great afternoon, but he turned out some hard yards, posting 81 rushing yards with a touchdown.

Other than maybe his scoring run, Dillon’s most important carry came late in the fourth quarter on third-and-9 from the Eagles 39-yard line. Despite the long distance to go on third down, Boston College called a running play, and Dillon rushed up the middle for a first down, gaining 11 yards.

The Eagles officially ended the game with three kneel downs following that play.

In many ways, Willis played extremely well for Virginia Tech, as he opened the season as the Hokies starter behind center for the first time in his career. He threw for a career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns.

But his three interceptions doomed his team, and in very un-Frank Beamer like fashion, the Hokies also lost a fumble on a punt return.

Because of the five turnovers, Virginia Tech lost despite out gaining Boston College, 442-432.