Had Boston College won Saturday’s ACC Atlantic Division matchup against Clemson at Alumni Stadium — and not the other way around — senior punter Alex Howell would’ve been a strong choice for the O’Rouke-McFadden leather helmet trophy, given to the game’s MVP. The honor went to Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt.
Amid a defensive struggle, Howell stood out for BC, averaging 50.1 yards on 10 punts, including a long of 57 yards and another that was downed at the Clemson 3. Howell’s counterpart for Clemson, Bradley Pinion, had a 41.8-yard average on 10 punts and a long of 55 yards.
“It’s great to have a good game, but then again, it’s a loss,’’ said Howell.
“You don’t play football for your own glory. You play to win the game with your teammates. So it kind of takes away from it all. Then again, it’s something to look forward to and build on for next week.’’
Howell headlined a special teams unit that was much improved over last week’s effort in a 30-14 victory at North Carolina State.
Myles Willis highlighted the return game with a pair of kickoff returns for 68 yards, including a long gain of 50 after Clemson had taken a 7-0 lead. Adam Humphries, Clemson’s dangerous punt returner, was held to 10 yards on three returns while the Tigers’ T.J. Green had three kickoff returns for 51 yards, with a long of 18.
However, the Eagles’ Mike Knoll, who took over placekicking duties from Howell last weekend, missed the extra point attempt after BC went ahead, 13-10, in the fourth quarter.
“I thought our special teams did a great job tonight, until we missed an extra point,’’ Addazio said. “But our coverage was outstanding. Our kick return was outstanding. Our kick coverage was outstanding. Our punt coverage was outstanding. I thought we did some really good things on special teams.’’
Josh Bordner was the recipient of Tyler Murphy’s go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but he lamented BC’s squandered scoring opportunities.
“I know personally I had two,’’ said Bordner, a former quarterback turned wide receiver. “I dropped a wide-open pass in the first quarter. And I underthrew Charlie [Callinan], who was wide open and it would have been a TD.’’
Bordner’s 35-yard pass to Callinan, off a double reverse, was his first completion of the season. The play delighted Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who watched from near BC’s bench.
“There were definitely missed plays all over the field,’’ Bordner said. “We just need to execute better and come out next week ready to beat Wake [Forest].’’
Making them count
Callinan had a career-high 64 receiving yards, and all three of his catches were important. While his 35-yard catch on Bordner’s pass was his longest gain, he also had a 15-yard haul that enabled BC to convert a third-and-10 from the Clemson 36 on the go-ahead touchdown drive. It was BC’s first third-down conversion after an 0 for 9 start. Callinan also had BC’s only other third-down conversion, a 14-yard catch on third and 6 from the BC 23 midway through the fourth quarter . . . Clemson sacked Murphy five times for minus-23 yards and racked up 14 tackles for losses that totaled 44 yards. BC registered just one sack (by Malachi Moore) and had 12 tackles for losses, for 19 yards. BC linebacker Steven Daniels led all players with 11 tackles, all solo, with three tackles for losses. “That’s what our defense is about,’’ Daniels said. “We’re waiting to pressure people and get to the quarterback as fast as we can.’’
Murphy keeps gaining
Murphy is the nation’s leader in rushing yards by a quarterback with 766 — including 55 in Saturday’s loss — and is on pace to shatter the ACC season record set by Clemson’s Woody Dantzler (1,061) in 2001 . . . Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed played at BC from 1991-94, his first three seasons under Tom Coughlin and his last under Dan Henning . . . Saturday’s win gave Clemson four straight in the series and a 13-9-2 overall edge . . . BC’s newest Varsity Club Hall of Fame inductees were honored at halftime. They are Allison Anderson (Class of 2007, volleyball), Bob Dirks (2009, field hockey), Jeff Farkas (2000, hockey), Kasey Hill (2008, track and field), William Hogan (1933, hockey), Marty Reasoner (1998, hockey), Kim (Ryan) Scavone (2003, softball), Paul Taylor (2004, fencing), Jeff Waldron (1999, baseball), and former women’s basketball coach Cathy Inglese.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MBVEGA.