As Boston College football coach Jeff Hafley ran through all the ways the Eagles conspired against themselves in a setback last week at Virginia Tech, what had him shaking his head the most was how all the mistakes the Eagles committed overshadowed how well the offense moved the ball.
At one point, Hafley used the word “unstoppable” to describe BC’s offense.
Did it sound slightly hyperbolic? Absolutely.
But as Hafley continues to build the program in his first year, he sees potential even in the missed plays.
In Saturday’s 48-27 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Georgia Tech at Alumni Stadium, Hafley saw some of that vision play out.
“It’s exactly what I’ve been seeing,” Hafley said. "It’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in practice. And I knew it would take some time to click. That’s football. We didn’t have the luxury of a spring to review and study and we didn’t have the luxury of a real training camp.
“So I was patient, and I trusted the coaches, and you saw it tonight.”
BC steamrolled the Yellow Jackets, piling up 409 yards of total offense on the way to its first-ever win over the Yellow Jackets at Alumni Stadium.
The Eagles did most of their damage on the ground with a season-high 264 rushing yards while scoring a season-high 48 points.
“If we’re going to run the ball — we rushed for 264 yards today, and we threw the ball for 145, we only threw the ball 21 times today — it’s hard to defend,” Hafley said.
The Eagles, as a result, improved to 4-2 overall and 3-2 ACC, and next week travel to Death Valley to face the No. 1 Clemson Tigers, who last week demolished Georgia Tech, 73-7.
Quarterback Phil Jurkovec completed 13 of 21 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 94 yards on seven carries.
CJ Lewis caught four passes for 58 yards and two scores. David Bailey rushed 13 times for 83 yards and a pair of second-half TDs on runs of 34 and 4 yards.
The Eagles' 48 points were the third-most in an ACC game behind 58 last year against Syracuse, and 52 in 2009 against North Carolina State. The Eagles built a 34-14 halftime lead on the Yellow Jackets and the offense cashed in on nearly every opportunity, with BC’s defense coming up with three turnovers (2 fumbles, 1 interception) that were converted into points.
“He’s been telling us that he doesn’t think we’ve hit our stride yet,” Jurkovec said of Hafley. "In terms of scoring points, we can really put a lot of points on the board, but we haven’t really shown it. So he’s always had that confidence has been steady with us, just knowing that we can score a lot.
“So he knew it was coming. But I think we left some points on the board tonight. I think we could have scored more for sure.”
BC’s red-zone offense had been lackluster through the first five games.
The Eagles had found their way into the red zone 21 times and scored on 17 of those trips but only found the end zone 10 times.
But on BC’s opening drive, Jurkovec led the Eagles inside the 20 and connected with Lewis on a 7-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
When defensive lineman Marcus Valdez recovered a fumble by Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims on a botched option handoff to running back Jahmyr Gibbs, the Eagles' offense had a short field to work with at the Georgia Tech 22 and took advantage when Jurkovec hit Lewis for a 5-yard touchdown that put the Eagles up, 14-0.
Aaron Boumerhi’s 41-yard field goal with 13:04 left in the second quarter capped a nine-play, 62-yard march and pushed the lead to 17-0. Then the Eagles got another gift from the Yellow Jackets.
Running back Jordan Mason took a handoff and got stood up by a trio of Eagles defensive linemen.
On the way down, Mason got stripped of the football.
While everyone was on the ground, BC safety Mike Palmer spotted the football, scooped it up, and sprinted 33 yards for the score, expanding the Eagles lead to 24-0 with 12:12 left in the first half.
Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins was fuming on the sidelines, assuming the play had been whistled dead.
Officials reviewed the play and upheld the fumble call.
After Sims found Ahmarean Brown on a 32-yard TD pass, Zay Flowers reached into his bag for an old trick, scoring on a 22-yard jet sweep that pushed BC’s lead to 31-7 with 9:44 left before intermission.
One play after BC sophomore defensive back Josh DeBerry was ejected for targeting on a sliding helmet-to-helmet hit against Sims, the Yellow Jackets answered when Sims answered with a 31-yard TD pass to PeJe' Harris.
But the Eagles responded by mounting a 14-play, 65-yard march capped by Boumerhi’s 29-yard field goal with 30 seconds left for a whopping 20-point halftime lead.
“We have a lot of confidence on the offensive side,” Lewis said. “And I feel like that it’s just hard to stop us because there’s a lot of people that can make big plays on the field at any moment. And as long as we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot during game day, I feel like we control our own destiny at the end of the day.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.