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A night that began in promising fashion for the Boston College football team quickly soured and spiraled into a lopsided defeat the Eagles will want to quickly put behind them.

No. 22 North Carolina State scored 26 unanswered points, running away with a decisive 33-7 win at Alumni Stadium on Saturday. The Eagles (4-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who last beat an Associated Press-ranked team in 2014, have lost two straight after starting 4-0 for the first time since 2007.

BC squandered a chance to upset a contender at home and was left wondering what could have been.

“We didn’t play well,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said. “We didn’t, and that’s just the truth. And I don’t want to make anything bigger than that. We need to play better. We need to get better.”


Takeaways from the game:

⋅ Both teams scored on their opening drive, as N.C. State quarterback Devin Leary found Devin Carter for an acrobatic 40-yard grab and Boston College QB Dennis Grosel hit tight end Trae Barry for an 8-yard strike. Neither side converted the rest of the quarter, and Christopher Dunn drilled a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0 ACC) a 10-7 edge at the break.

Each offense had 172 yards in the first half — the Eagles held a 100-61 edge on the ground, the Wolfpack a 111-72 advantage in the air.

⋅ BC had minus-3 rushing yards in the second half. Pat Garwo and Alec Sinkfield were physical and overpowering early, but the offensive line and running backs struggled mightily in a pivotal 21-0 third quarter. The Wolfpack controlled the line of scrimmage and overpowered the Eagles, quickly snatching momentum and never relenting in a dominant stretch.

Hafley said BC’s lack of success running the ball was likely a combination of the situation and what N.C. State did defensively. He acknowledged the Eagles could never get in a rhythm on offense in the second half, and said he’s curious to watch the film Sunday.


“It’s tough to keep your game plan going when you’re down that amount,” Grosel said.

⋅ The Wolfpack extended the lead to 17-7 three minutes into the third when usually reliable BC punter Grant Carlson fumbled and freshman Devan Boykin ran it back 34 yards for a touchdown. N.C. State then capitalized on a Grosel interception, when Leary and Dylan Parham connected for a 4-yard TD reception.

Thayer Thomas added a 79-yard touchdown to make it 31-7 and put the game out of reach. The Wolfpack added a safety late in the fourth quarter for good measure.

⋅ The Eagles had more drops (18) than first downs (17), and were just 5 of 13 on third down against the nation’s No. 2 team in third-down defense. They looked lethargic in stretches and didn’t play like the team fans have grown accustomed to for the bulk of the season.

Though rain fell at times throughout the game, Grosel said the weather wasn’t a factor. He believes the Eagles had their chances, and that the score doesn’t always dictate how the game went.

“It was a pretty big swing there in the second half,” Grosel said, “but it’s about understanding what actually happened, what took place, and taking the loss and score aside, what we can do better on and what we did well.”


⋅ Linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley admitted the loss was particularly tough for some of the younger players on the team who hadn’t experienced a defeat like that before. He called it a resilient bunch, and said everyone is already determined to ensure it was an outlier, not the start of a trend.

“We have a great group of guys that are going to do nothing but fight,” Graham-Mobley said. “We’re going to be really real on the tape tomorrow and come back to practice and leave it behind us.”

⋅ Hafley praised the crowd of 40,349 for coming early, cheering enthusiastically, and staying late. He’s hopeful they’ll do the same next home game — against Virginia Tech on Nov. 5, after trips to Louisville and Syracuse — despite Saturday’s result.

“I’m very grateful,” he said. “When we ran out of the tunnel, that was one of the best atmospheres I’ve seen. The students were there, it was loud, and I appreciate that. I thank them, our team thanks them.”

He said the setback reminds him of the Eagles’ 40-14 loss to the Hokies last year. BC quickly responded and cruised past Georgia Tech the next week, and Hafley expects a similar kind mind-set this time around.

“It just got away real quick in the second half, and we couldn’t recover,” Hafley said. “I remember how we bounced back from that, too. This team will bounce back.”

Trevor Hass can be reached at trevor.hass@globe.com.