For the second game in a row, Boston College received an immeasurable boost from a member of its freshman class.
In a 35-7 setback at Southern California Sept. 14, freshman running back Tyler Rouse broke up USC’s shutout bid with a 29-yard touchdown run. In Saturday’s 48-34 loss to eighth-ranked Florida State at Alumni Stadium, freshman Myles Willis gave the Eagles a spark with a 71-yard kickoff return to open the second half, then hauled in a 52-yard TD pass from Chase Rettig to pull BC within 38-27 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
“I knew things like that could really shift momentum,’’ Willis said of his return. “I knew if there was a play to be made, I’ve got to step up and make it, the blocks were there and it was a great play.’’
Said BC coach Steve Addazio, “That guy, he just loves football and he loves to compete. He’s really got juice. He even brings me up.’’
Willis’s return resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Nate Freese that pulled BC within 24-20.
“Myles is a really great kid,’’ said senior running back Andre Williams. “He’s got sweet feet and he’s fast. So he really gave us a little boost when he got that wheel route for the touchdown.’’
Willis’s first career TD catch came on a play he said the team had practiced all week.
“Everybody told me it was going to be open,’’ said Willis, a 5-foot-9-inch, 187-pound running back from Conyers, Ga. “When the ball was in the air, I didn’t feel any extra emotions. I just knew to catch the ball and go score. I was prepared for it. I knew it was going to happen, so there was a play to be made.”
Willis finished with 211 all-purpose yards — he rushed five times for 28 yards, made four catches for 69 yards, and had three kickoff returns for 114 yards.
“Today I had to give more than I ever have, definitely didn’t have to give that much in high school,’’ Willis said. “So to have that production and be able to come out and make some plays and give all you got and still come out with a loss, it really hurts.’’
Williams rushed 28 times for 159 yards Saturday to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for his career; he has 2,067 through 37 games. Williams entered the game with an ACC-leading 118.7 yards per game.
“I think this game was invaluable as a learning experience,’’ said Williams. “Just comparing it to how we came out of the half against USC, we might’ve let a little bit of air out of the bag. But I think we came in the locker room and found a way to keep our energy up and play another half of football.’’
BC next plays Army, a team Williams excelled against last season. Williams ran for a then-career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 34-31 setback at West Point, N.Y., last Oct. 6.
Addazio was encouraged by what he saw from BC’s special teams against Florida State.
“You saw the emergence of our special teams for the first time this season,’’ said the coach, referring to the six kickoff returns for 162 yards and the two punt returns by Spiffy Evans for 53 yards. “Our special teams were a positive factor.’’
Senior punter-kicker Nate Freese hit both field goal attempts, each from 24 yards, and converted all four of his PATs. He also limited the Seminoles to just one kickoff return of 17 yards.
Senior fullback Jake Sinkovec, who suffered a leg injury in preseason camp and missed the first three games of the season, made his first catch of the year count when he hauled in a 3-yard TD from Rettig. It was Sinkovec’s only reception . . . BC’s defense rang up three sacks against Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston, giving the Eagles 12 on the season — twice as many as the team had last year. Kaleb Ramsey, Kasim Edebali, and Mehdi Abdesmad were credited with sacks. Abdesmad, however, went down with a left leg injury in the third quarter and did not return. As he was helped off the field, Abdesmad turned to his teammates and yelled, “Let’s go! Do this!’’ Said Edebali: “It just got my heart fired up. I had to play for him, everybody had to play for him, we had to play for each other because BC’s defense is what we’re about.’’ . . . Dominique Williams recorded his first career interception, giving the Eagles five on the season . . . BC entered the game the least penalized team in the nation but matched its penalty yardage for the season after getting hit with three infractions . . . BC scored 17 second-half points. Florida State’s first three opponents scored a combined 9 points after halftime, none in the fourth quarter.Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.