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Florida State 31, Boston College 29

BC’s upset bid against No. 3 Florida State comes up short

Boston College defensive back Elijah Jones (1) forces Florida State running back Lawrance Toafili (9) to fumble, leading to Khari Johnson's 8-yard scoop-and-score early in the fourth quarter of Saturday's exciting ACC tilt at Alumni Stadium.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

In the week leading up to Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Florida State, Boston College coach Jeff Hafley promised that the Eagles would limit their penalties moving forward.

After committing 10 against both Northern Illinois and Holy Cross, the Eagles understood their discipline had to improve as they entered Atlantic Coast Conference play.

At least, that’s what they said.

Instead, on Saturday they committed 11 penalties for 81 yards in the first half alone, and a program-record 18 (for 132 yards) on the day in a 31-29 loss to the Seminoles at Alumni Stadium.

“That’s something we have to clean up,” BC quarterback Thomas Castellanos said. “If we don’t have those, I feel like we win this game.”


Lewis Bond caught three passes for a team-high 80 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Eagles beat themselves all day, but particularly in the first half. They showed tremendous fight to score 19 straight points and make it a game in the second half, but a backbreaking facemask call on John Pupel sealed BC’s fate.

It was a fitting ending to a flag-filled afternoon.

“I’m just hurting for those guys, because we did have a chance,” Hafley said. “I wish I could have done more.”

BC honored Welles Crowther — a national hero who helped save lives in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001 — with its annual Red Bandana game.

The Eagles played inspired football early, taking a 7-0 lead on a 32-yard pass from Castellanos to Lewis Bond. Bond found room in the middle of the field and darted from left to right to get into the end zone.

The Seminoles answered with a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Fitzgerald, then BC responded with a 21-yard field goal from Liam Connor to make it 10-3 early in the second quarter.

Quarterback Thomas Castellanos celebrates his 7-yard touchdown run that pulled BC within 31-29 with 5:19 to play.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

BC moved the ball effectively, en route to 457 total yards, but the penalties piled up at untimely moments. Castellanos (20 for 33, 305 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 16 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD) grew visibly frustrated as the offensive line continued to make head-scratching missteps.


Hafley said it was a combination of the noise, youth, and other miscellaneous factors. He was pleased that the Eagles minimized the “dumb” fouls that nearly cost them against Holy Cross, but he said he knows it’s inexcusable.

The Eagles learned the hard way that the best teams in the country will eventually take advantage when given ample opportunities. Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis hit Jaheim Bell for a 19-yard score, then Trey Benson plunged in from 2 yards out to give the Seminoles a 17-10 halftime lead.

All told, the Eagles had five false starts, two delay of games, two holding calls, one personal foul and one pass interference in the first half. Despite racking up 245 yards in the half, compared with 161 for Florida State, the Eagles trailed by 7 heading into intermission.

“I’ve got to go back and watch it, but it’s too many,” Hafley said. “We’ve got to clean that up.”

BC's Victor Nelson (21) celebrates with teammates after recovering an onside kick in the third quarter.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

In the second half, Travis found Preston Daniel for a 4-yard strike to cap a six-play, 74-yard drive. Two plays later, DJ Lundy picked off Castellanos at the BC 40. Travis hit Bell for a 39-yard completion down to the 1, and Lundy ran it in from there to push FSU’s lead to 31-10 just 3:40 into the third quarter.


“I told those guys it’s a long game,” said Castellanos, whose 644 yards passing through three games are the third most by a BC quarterback since 1981. “Second half, we’ve got a lot of time on the clock. Don’t give up. Keep fighting.”

Kye Robichaux, who started as BC’s fourth-string running back in training camp, continues to make the most of his opportunity as injuries mount. The Western Kentucky transfer converted three fourth-down rushes and helped keep drives alive, finishing with 64 yards on 21 carries.

Chestnut Hill, MA - 9/16/2023 - BC0916 - (3rd quarter) DUPLICATE***Boston College Eagles running back Kye Robichaux (5) comes up just short of the goal line on this play but scored moments later during the third quarter. The Boston College Eagles host the Florida State Seminoles at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, MA. Photo by: Barry Chin/Globe Staff) Section: Sports, Reporter: Trevor Hass, Arc ID: Barry Chin/Globe Staff

He had five rushes on BC’s 12-play, 80-yard march, but the big play was Castellanos finding Dino Tomlin for a 52-yard gain on third and 17 to get to Florida State’s 24-yard line. Robichaux capped the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge with 1:02 left in the third. The extra point was no good, leaving the deficit 31-16 to start the fourth.

But Hafley immediately gave the ball back to his offense by calling for a squib kick that Luca Lombardi executed to perfection, and Victor Nelson recovered the fumbled return at the Seminoles’ 26. The Eagles marched to the 5, but Robichaux was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-2 play to turn it over on downs.

BC appeared to be out of steam, but then five plays later Elijah Jones poked the ball free from Seminoles running back Lawrance Toafili, and Khari Johnson scooped it up for an 8-yard score. The Eagles elected to go for 2 but couldn’t convert, so they trailed 31-22 with 11:18 left.


Khari Johnson's 8-yard scoop-and-score made it a 9-point game early in the fourth quarter.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Seminoles drove into BC territory, but two Florida State penalties led to Alex Mastromanno’s punt out of bounds that pinned the Eagles at their own 5. But it only took Castellanos and the Eagles nine plays to go the full length of the field and score.

Castellanos found Bond for a 42-yard completion to put BC into Seminole territory, then hit Ryan O’Keefe for 25 yards to the 15-yard line. After two incompletions, tight end George Takacs had an 8-yard catch down to the 7. Hafley rolled the dice again on fourth down, and Castellanos fought his way into the end zone. O’Connor’s point-after kick made it a two-point game with 5:19 remaining.

The BC defense forced a three-and-out, but the Seminoles’ defense came up with the big play on Kalen DeLoach’s 14-yard sack on third and 10. The Eagles were forced to punt with 2:16 to go, and the visitors ran out the clock — with the help of Pupel’s penalty that gave the Seminoles the final first down it needed.

“It was obviously disappointing that we lost, but it showed us we’re a very good football team,” linebacker Kam Arnold said. “There’s not a team on our schedule that we can’t beat. If anything, that should boost our confidence and have us attack our schedule full steam ahead.”

Boston Globe Today: Sports | September 15, 2023
Watch the full episode of Boston Globe Today: Sports from September 15, 2023.

Trevor Hass can be reached at