CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Sean Sylvia became the first Boston College player to be ejected under the new targeting rules instituted by the NCAA this season.
Sylvia, a 6-foot, 208-pound junior free safety from Dartmouth, Mass., was disqualified in the second quarter of BC’s 34-10 loss at North Carolina on Saturday when he leveled Bug Howard with a head shot after the Tar Heels receiver made a 10-yard touchdown catch to give UNC a 20-7 lead with 52 seconds left before intermission.
“The rules are put in for the right reasons, for players’ safety,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio. “They reviewed it. That’s what they saw and I’m not going to comment on it.’’
Sylvia retreated to the visitors’ locker room at Kenan Stadium, where he spent the entire second half. Sylvia’s ejection further depleted a BC secondary that was already missing strong safety Spenser Rositano, who sat out with a head injury. The Eagles turned to sophomore Justin Simmons to fill the void left by Sylvia’s absence.
“Did it hurt us?’’ Addazio said. “Yeah, it was a critical loss. We don’t have the depth. Spenser Rositano, one of our starting safeties, was not here. So now we lost our next safety. We were playing a [sophomore]. It’s not an excuse. It’s the cumulative effect of that.
“That’s why, towards the end of the game when we knew the game was out of reach, we put in our younger guys in there.’’
BC officials said Sylvia would be eligible to return to play next weekend against Virginia Tech.
Andre Williams claimed no joy after he rushed 26 times for 172 yards and a 56-yard touchdown, BC’s longest run from scrimmage this season. He committed a fumble on BC’s second play from scrimmage that set up UNC’s first score. “It was definitely on me, so I felt like I had to step it up a notch and answer back,’’ Williams said.
Williams entered the game needing 162 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and reached that milestone for the first time in his career when he converted a third-and-1 from the BC 41 with a gritty 5-yard carry in the fourth quarter.
With 2,592 rushing yards in his career, Williams is now eighth on BC’s all-time list, leapfrogging Omari Walker (2,471), Keith Barnette (2,500), and L.V. Whitworth (2,576) on Saturday.
“All those things really don’t matter at the end of it,’’ Williams said. “The team didn’t do well today. We lost.’’
Sizing up sacks
The Eagles gave up four sacks but recorded four as well for 43 yards, giving BC’s defense 20 on the season for 143 yards. Freshman linebacker Marquis Little recorded his first sack when he dropped UNC quarterback Bryn Renner for a 17-yard loss in the second quarter. Kaleb Ramsey had a 6-yard sack of Renner in the first quarter. On UNC’s first possession of the second half, Kasim Edebali dropped Renner for a 6-yard loss. Eight plays later, on third and 5 from the BC 48, Kevin Pierre-Louis emphatically stopped the drive with a 14-yard sack of Renner . . . BC’s offense, which was held to 57 yards passing, did not run an offensive play inside the UNC 35 until its final four snaps of the game (resulting in a 38-yard field goal by Nate Freese). That drive started at the UNC 39 after a punt and a penalty. Furthermore, BC ran only 13 plays all game on Carolina’s side of midfield, including seven on BC’s final possession . . . Alex Amidon was among three BC receivers who caught a pass from quarterback Chase Rettig, who was held to 57 yards on 10-for-20 passing. It was the second-worst performance of Rettig’s career, following a 32-yard effort (on 5-for-12 passing) against Maryland in 2011. “That’s our job,’’ Amidon said. “We’ve got to be able to make catches for him.’’ Amidon finished with eight receptions for 38 yards. . . The Eagles will host Virginia Tech next weekend. The Hokies suffered a 13-10 home loss to Duke on Saturday.