CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The second John Lamot saw cornerback Taj-Amir Torres tip a pass from Virginia’s Lindell Stone, sending the football dancing in mid-air, the Boston College linebacker knew he could grab it and find his way to the end zone.
“I saw the ball in the air, I just grabbed it and had to get to the house,” Lamot said.
On the sidelines, staring at a scoreboard that showed the Eagles on the right side of a lopsided situation, BC coach Steve Addazio enjoyed every moment.
Lamot’s 40-yard interception return was the last score in the Eagles’ 41-10 win over Virginia. After taking their share of blowout losses this season, the Eagles relished in handing one to a Cavaliers team that came in 5-1.
“Players don’t want to take a beating, that’s for sure,” Addazio said. “But in the same breath, I think it’s how it goes. It feels good to be down the back end of that game with that score the way it was. I’m not going to lie to you, that feels great.”
Two weeks ago, the Eagles took a 23-10 loss to Virginia Tech that dropped them to 2-4 and sparked Addazio to proclaim that eventually, “It will be beautiful.” The Eagles have since responded by putting up 40 points in back-to-back ACC games for the first time since joining the conference in 2005.
“I don’t even remember I said that, but that’s accurately how I feel,” Addazio said. “I feel that there was a lot of good things brewing. Somebody said, ‘Well, how does the team feel?’ Well, the team feels great because they watch the video. Watch the video, you can validate. Video doesn’t lie. So the team has been great.
“All this does over the last couple days is build that confidence. You’re able to bear some fruit in the foundation that you lay and everybody needs to have some fruit. I mean, you’ve got to get some validation for your hard work at some time, it’s just human nature.”
While Addazio’s memory was foggy, his players remembered. For the second straight week, the offense racked up 500-plus yards (512). Freshman quarterback Anthony Brown completed 19 of 24 passes for a career-high 275 yards and three touchdowns. A.J. Dillon rushed for 89 yards on 24 carries. Tommy Sweeney caught four passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our coaches do a great job with game-planning and everything to help us out,” said Brown. “And we had to take it upon ourselves to make a difference. This is a players’ game, so we have to play as hard and physical and be as effective as possible during a game. So we took that into our own hands.”
They set the tone early with an offense that was as effective in the first quarter as it’s been all season.
When the Eagles looked up at the Scott Stadium scoreboard at the end of the first quarter, they saw a sight they hadn’t seen in nearly a decade : a 17-0 lead.
Those 17 points were the most the Eagles had scored in the first quarter of an ACC game since 2008 (at N.C. State).
In the first quarter alone, the Eagles piled up 256 yards (122 on the ground, 134 in the air) converted 5 of 6 third downs and controlled the ball for 8:12 on 21 plays.
They got on the board first after a 15-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal by Colton Lichtenberg.
Their next drive was a blur when Thadd Smith turned the corner on a sweep and sprinted 76 yards to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.
The next time the offense touched the field, it only needed three plays to cash in again. Brown hit Kobay White on a screen to the right side, and the freshman wide receiver took advantage of a missed tackle and slid upfield 76 yards to put BC up 17-0.
The Eagles stretched the lead to 24-0 on the first drive of the second quarter, an 80-yard drive capped when Brown floated a pass to a wide-open Sweeney for a 10-yard score.
Virginia avoided being shut out in the first half when Joe Reed punched in a 1-yard run. But the Eagles kept their foot on the gas at the start of the second half, going 50 yards on 10 plays to set up a 36-yard field goal by Lichtenberg, then churning out a back-breaking 15-play, 92-yard drive capped by another touchdown pass from Brown to Sweeney that pushed the lead to 34-7.
“I think we’re starting the hard way to bear some fruit and gain some confidence and that’s critically important,” Addazio said. “There’s still a process there, but I’m sure jacked up to be a part of that process right now.
“Everybody’s grooving in a little bit. That was a rough start there where we had to break in a young freshman at center who hadn’t played center before. All that stuff was rough and against the level. But that water’s finding itself right now and we’re now gaining confidence.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.