BC football rolls over Syracuse

SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 25: AJ Dillon #2 of the Boston College Eagles hurdles to avoid a tackle by Rodney Williams #6 of the Syracuse Orange on a touchdown carry during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome on November 25, 2017 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
BC’s A.J. Dillon avoided a tackle on a first-half touchdown run.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — It took A.J. Dillon one carry to get his first touchdown of the game.

After not practicing all week due to an injury, Dillon sat on the sideline for much of Boston College’s opening drive on Saturday against Syracuse.

When the freshman running back finally entered the game, he received a handoff from quarterback Darius Wade, bounced right, and barrelled over a Syracuse defender on his way to a 22-yard touchdown run. It was Dillon’s first of three scores in a 42-14 victory for Boston College (7-5, 4-4 ACC) over Syracuse (4-8, 2-6) at the Carrier Dome.


After the touchdown, Dillon pointed to his mother, who sat in the BC fan section, just as he promised he would before the game.

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“When I was sitting back there [on the sideline] I really wanted to jump-start this game,” Dillon said. “Coach had been talking all week about not waiting to make a play, that everybody on the team is going to make a play, offense, defense and special teams.”

On Dillon’s next carry he ran 50 yards down the right sideline to the Syracuse 16-yard line. Three plays later, from the 8, he carried a defender 3 yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the opening frame. Dillon finished with 193 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.

Dillon’s first two touchdowns provided BC with 7-point leads. From there the lead only extended as the Eagles exploited the Orange for 581 total yards of offense and their highest-scoring output ever against Syracuse. In BC’s first win in the Dome since 2010, the Eagles piled on a depleted Syracuse squad playing its last game of the season.

The win gives the Eagles at least seven wins and a bowl appearance for the fourth time in BC coach Steve Addazio’s five seasons. The Eagles will wait to find out their bowl game and opponent following the conclusion of the conference championship games next week.


“We came out and played great complementary football,” Addazio said. “On offense, we came out, rushed for over 300 had over 580 yards of offense.

“The defense I thought did a great job of making them go the long, hard way.”

Midway through the second quarter, BC defensive back Hamp Cheevers was quick to a pitch from Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper. Cheevers met running back Moe Neal as he caught the ball and launched the running back backward, forcing a Syracuse punt.

Two plays later, Jeff Smith took a jet sweep 64 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Cheevers wasn’t done.

As Syracuse lined up for a second and 3 from its 32-yard line, Cheevers recognized the formation. The Orange were lining up for a screen pass that had worked the previous series, Cheevers said. This time, the backward pass never made it to the intended target. Cheevers jumped the route, evading a block from receiver Jamal Custis to break up the pass. As the rest of the field froze, assuming the pass was incomplete, BC safety Will Harris scooped the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Eagles a 28-7 lead.


“I kind of snapped into it and was like, ‘Oh, that ball’s still live,’ ’’ Harris said. “So it was just all reactionary.”

As the final frame began, BC, leading 35-14, crushed Syracuse’s last chance at a comeback. The Orange had the ball deep in the red zone. SU twice ran fullback Chris Elmore up the middle, but both resulted in no gain and BC forced a turnover on downs at its 5-yard line.

On the ensuing possession, it took BC five plays to reward its defense and put the game away. After 34-yard run from Dillon brought the Eagles away from their end zone, they went back in the air.

Wade connected with running back Travis Levy on a swing pass on the right sideline. With no defenders around him as he caught the ball, Levy darted toward the middle of the field. The freshman finished the play in the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown to make it 42-14 and much of the home crowd rose to its feet and headed toward the exits.