SHREVEPORT, La. — Boston College’s offense looked completely out of synch, while the defense looked totally gassed trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of Arizona’s up-tempo offense.
The sobering sum of it all?
The Eagles were left feeling outclassed after Tuesday’s 42-19 setback to the Wildcats in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl before an announced crowd of 36,917 at Independence Stadium. It was not the kind of impression BC’s football team, in particular its senior class, had hoped to make in its first bowl appearance since Jan. 9, 2011.
“I said the outcome of this game would not, in any way, shape, or form, change the footprint that’s been laid at Boston College,’’ said first-year coach Steve Addazio, who presided over the transformation of a team that went 2-10 last season. “That wouldn’t be right if anybody suggested that.
“By the same breath, it outlines the next steps that have to happen in order to keep your program moving in the right direction that we want to get it moving again.’’
The Eagles (7-6) allowed Arizona to roll up 529 yards of total offense and score 35 points on five consecutive possessions in a spree that spanned more than 20 minutes between the last 4:16 of the first half and the first 1:20 of the fourth quarter.
Arizona’s undersized but overachieving defense subjected BC’s Andre Williams to a desert swarm by holding the Doak Walker Award winner to 75 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. Williams finished with 2,177 yards on the season, the fifth-best rushing effort in FBS history.
“I just have to say that I’m sad about the game and the way it went,’’ said Williams.
Williams’s roommate, senior wide receiver Alex Amidon, capped a brilliant career with 10 catches for 129 yards. That gave him 191 receptions for his career, which enabled him to supplant Pete Mitchell (190 from 1991-94) as BC’s all-time leader.
“I think the biggest key for us, defensively, was trying to tackle him before he got going through the second level,’’ Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said of the strategy on Williams. “We wanted to tackle him early and be really physical.
“Our guys up front held the point pretty good, and on the back end, we tackled well. We got him on the ground quickly and didn’t let him get the big runs.’’
The much-anticipated duel between the nation’s top two running backs never materialized as Williams was outperformed by Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, a Doak Walker finalist who ranked second in the nation in rushing with an average of 156.0 yards per game. Carey ran 27 times for 169 yards and scored two touchdowns.
“We all knew he was a good running back,’’ said BC senior defensive end Kasim Edebali. “We had our chances to make a play and they out-executed us on plays and made big plays.’’
Carey gave Arizona an early 7-0 lead with his first TD run, from 2 yards out, with 7:51 left in the first quarter. He expanded a 21-6 halftime lead to a 28-6 edge with his second tally, a 5-yard run that capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that opened the second half.
“We had some critical issues before the half,’’ said Addazio, referring to the Eagles’ squandered opportunity to convert on a muffed punt by Nate Phillips after Nate Freese had converted field goals of 32 and 41 yards to pull BC within 7-6. “We gave up 14 points when we could have kicked a field goal to take the lead.
“Instead, in span of three minutes, we had 14 points [scored] against us.’’
BC freshman John Johnson recovered Phillips’s muffed punt at the Arizona 40, but two plays later, on third and 4 from the Arizona 34, William Parks intercepted Chase Rettig (16 of 26, 191 yards, 2 INTs, 3 sacks) and returned it 69 yards for a TD that gave Arizona a 14-6 lead with 4:16 left in the half.
After BC went three-and-out, the Wildcats went 80 yards in 10 plays, scoring with 30 seconds left. Quarterback B.J. Denker, the game’s offensive MVP who passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards and a score, completed a 26-yard TD strike to Trey Griffey — son of Ken Griffey Jr. — to give the Wildcats that 21-6 lead.
“The way we were built right now, this year, we’ve got to be on schedule, we’ve got to be in phase, and not too far out of that thing,’’ Addazio said. “When we start getting into the things we don’t do best, it can get out of whack.’’
Trailing, 28-6, the Eagles were forced to punt after a drive stalled at midfield. Denker then capped an eight-play, 93-yard drive, which was highlighted by a 41-yard strike to Phillips (nine catches, 193 yards), when he ran for a 14-yard TD to make it 35-6.
The Wildcats made it 42-6 when Griffey hauled in a 3-yard TD pass from Denker on third and goal with 13:40 left in the game.
BC scored its first touchdown when Williams crashed in from 4 yards out to cap a 65-yard drive that was highlighted by Amidon’s record-setting 10th reception, a 35-yard grab to the Arizona 16.
The BC underclassmen entered with 5:10 remaining and went on a 12-play, 94-yard drive that freshman Tyler Rouse capped with a 6-yard scoring run.
“We all looked at each other and said, ‘We’re finishing in the end zone,’ not only for us, but we we were doing it for the seniors,’’ Rouse said. “We all looked up to them, they paved the path for us. So we just wanted to show them that we appreciated everything they had done.’’
Said Addazio, “As I told our team, I’m very proud of our seniors and I’m proud of what they accomplished. I won’t let this game get in the way of that, ever. We’re not going to demean what was done.
“Obviously, the next step is not just getting to a bowl game, but winning a bowl game and competing for conference championships, and that’s my responsibility to make sure that happens.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.