Stealing a glance at his teammates on Boston College’s sideline, senior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis said he was encouraged by what he saw as the Eagles trailed Virginia Tech, 17-10, in the third quarter of Saturday’s gritty Atlantic Coast Conference game.
Pierre-Louis saw that his teammates were not fazed by the up-and-down, back-and-forth, topsy-turvy nature of the game.
“We kept echoing that on the sideline, ‘Let’s play to win, let’s not play not to lose,’ ” Pierre-Louis said. “And we just rallied around each other.’’
Three days after the Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time in 95 years, for which they were feted Saturday morning with a Duck Boat parade, the Eagles kept the good times rolling in Boston with a jolting 34-27 victory over Virginia Tech before an Alumni Stadium crowd of 30,129.
Pierre-Louis intercepted Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas and scored on a 33-yard return to break a 20-20 tie with seven minutes left in the game. As he was being escorted to the end zone by a “flock of Eagles,’’ he said he took another glance at BC’s sideline.
What did he see? “I saw pure . . . genuine . . . excitement and joy from my teammates,’’ Pierre-Louis said, smiling.
“Everyone was going crazy,’’ said senior kicker Nate Freese, who answered two field goals by Virginia Tech’s Cody Journell (from 56 and 47 yards) with tying kicks from 25 and 43 yards, the latter knotting the game at 20 with 8:45 left. “That was a huge, huge play for us that basically won us the game.’’
It was the third of four turnovers forced by BC’s defense. The first three (which included a fumble recovery by Brian Mihalik on a Kasim Edebali strip-sack and an interception by Manny Asprilla) resulted in 17 points for the Eagles, who rebounded from last week’s humbling 34-10 loss at North Carolina to improve to 4-4 overall (2-3 ACC).
“I really am proud of our football team,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio, whose team will try to snap a nine-game road losing streak next Saturday at New Mexico State. “I’m really proud of the way they scratched, clawed, and fought, on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
“They managed adversity, handled it and overcame it.’’
Senior running back Andre Williams projected BC’s strength — its punishing rushing attack — by running 33 times for 166 yards and touchdowns of 19 and 62 yards, the latter breaking the Hokies’ spirit and giving BC a commanding 34-20 lead. Virginia Tech entered the game ranked third in the nation in total defense and fifth against the run.
“I know I’m an integral part of the offense and they are counting on me to move the chains and be a workhorse,’’ said Williams, who improved his season rushing total to 1,176 yards (with 10 TDs) and moved into eighth place on BC’s all-time rushing list with 2,738 yards. “I pride myself on being able to get 100 yards a game. When everybody else is doing their job, though, it makes it pretty easy.’’
Williams scored BC’s first and last touchdowns. Both seemed to showcase the diversity of his talents. He scored on a 19-yard run in the first quarter to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead, running off right tackle and shedding three would-be tacklers. Williams punctuated the victory by hitting a gap off left tackle and showcasing his speed, sprinting 62 yards untouched with 4:35 left.
“They were both pretty sweet,’’ Williams said when comparing his TD runs. “They both had a different flavor to them, though.’’
Williams’s second touchdown came after BC’s defense had a third-and-6 pass interference call against senior linebacker Steele Divitto overturned by review because the pass was tipped.
Thomas’s fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete, and Williams scored on the next play.
Thomas accounted for 429 of Virginia Tech’s 446 total yards, despite getting sacked four times and being responsible for all four turnovers by the Hokies (6-3, 3-2).
“You can’t beat teams playing like we did today,’’ said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose team was outscored, 24-10, in the final 16½ minutes. “I thought our effort was great. I thought we gave great effort as a football team. We just didn’t do the things in the second half that good football teams do. And that’s the bottom line.’’
Meanwhile, the Eagles seemed to follow the example set by their bearded brethren from the Fens by showing Boston was strongest yet again.
“I believe today was one of the first times that we truly finished a game from beginning to end,’’ Pierre-Louis said. “We faced adversity from Quarter 1 all the way to Quarter 4. We were up, tie game, down. Looking at the sideline, guys never lost faith.’’