It was a game where everyone on Boston College’s football team bounded off the field at Alumni Stadium feeling good about their participation in Saturday’s 76-0 romp over Howard, a game both sides agreed to shorten to 10-minute quarters after the Eagles streaked to a 62-0 halftime lead.
But any feelings of euphoria were quickly tempered by the sobering reality of the challenge that looms for BC next Friday night at Alumni: Florida State.
“One thing about BC, we have smart kids,’’ said coach Steve Addazio, whose team (2-0) faces a short week of preparation before hosting the 11th-ranked Seminoles in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener between Atlantic Division foes.
“[Our players] know exactly who we played and what just happened,’’ Addazio said. “And they know what’s coming in here on Friday night. There’ll be no misunderstanding. Now we have to rise up and play at that level.’’
There won’t be any mutual agreement to shorten the second half against Florida State, as there was Saturday against the Bison of the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that before,’’ Addazio said after BC recorded its most lopsided win since a 76-0 rout of Holy Cross in 1949. The Eagles came 2 points shy of matching the school’s largest margin of victory, 78-0 over Saint Anselm in the 1941 season opener.
“[The officials] came up to me and said that in the ACC it was within the rules [to shorten the game], so I was all for it,” Addazio said. “The other coach [Howard’s Gary Harrell] was all for it, too. So we agreed right before the second half that we would do that, which I thought was great.
“There was nothing that was going to be had from staying out there and keep banging around.’’
Talk about a turkey shoot for the Eagles.
BC amassed 483 total yards, with 10 players combining for 347 yards on the ground. The Eagles scored 41 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second, and 7 apiece in the third and fourth quarters.
The defense, meanwhile, recorded its first shutout since a 54-0 blanking of Northeastern in the 2009 season opener and held the overmatched visitors from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to 11 total yards (7 rushing) and a pair of first downs (one rushing, one via penalty) on 40 plays.
BC’s previous record for fewest yards allowed was 52 vs. Holy Cross in a 54-0 shutout in 1970.
“The way we approached this game as a defense is the same way we approach every game,’’ said senior free safety Justin Simmons, a game captain. “They come in here and we’re not going to let them run the ball in our house. We wanted to set the tone early. And when that happened, all the chips fell into place as far as the rest of the game.’’
The Eagles also had four sacks and an interception against Howard quarterback Kalen Johnson (2 of 11, 4 yards). Linebacker Connor Strachan scored on a 16-yard interception return for his first career TD. It was sandwiched between the first two of Tyler Rouse’s three TD runs, all coming in the first 11 minutes.
Jonathan Hilliman added a 5-yard TD run to make it 27-0, Rouse’s 15-yard score made it 34-0, and freshman quarterback Jeff Smith tallied the first of his three TD runs to help the Eagles streak to a 41-point lead after the first quarter.
“We just got in a mode where we didn’t know what to do or what to call,’’ said Addazio, who limited most of his starters to one quarter of football. “We just got to the point where we didn’t want to throw it, we didn’t want to do anything. We just wanted it to end.’’
So, too, did Harrell, whose team has been outscored, 125-0, in its first two games. The Bison lost, 49-0, at Appalachian State last weekend.
“We came here for a specific job — to fight and win the game,’’ Harrell said. “But at that time, I had to make an executive decision to where we were and agreed to the circumstances [to shorten the quarters].’’
In the second quarter, sophomore quarterback Darius Wade (3 of 5, 30 yards) completed a 7-yard TD toss to Richard Wilson, Marcus Outlow ran for a 32-yard TD, and redshirt freshman QB Troy Flutie (7 of 8, 88 yards) threw his first career TD pass, a 10-yarder to senior fullback Sean Burke to make it 62-0 with 11 seconds left before intermission.
Howard was a late replacement for New Mexico State on BC’s schedule. Because the Eagles beat Maine last weekend, this second victory over an FCS opponent doesn’t count toward the six wins BC needs to become bowl eligible.
“For us, this game didn’t get us closer to bowl eligibility, it didn’t get us closer to game speed, but, again, there’s nothing that anybody can do about that,’’ Addazio said.
“There’s no sense living in the past. We knew what it was going to be. The good news is the one thing I did not see out there was our kids slopping around.
“I didn’t see that. Our kids went out there in a real professional, workman-like manner and handled their business.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBVEGA.