Tech wins ACC opener at Boston College

Head Coach Paul Johnson did something last Saturday that no other Tech head coach has done in his ACC debut: he won. The Jackets came up with a late safety that led to a 43-yard touchdown by Jonathan Dwyer and a 19-16 win over Boston College (BC) in Chestnut Hill.

“I’m really proud of our football team, the way they came out in the second half and fought. You know we never did get any consistency going offensively. I think you have to give BC some credit: they’re awfully good inside,” Johnson said.

Tech started off the fourth quarter with Scott Blair missing a field goal, his second of the game. The Jackets and Boston College alternated possessions before BC got the ball on their 11 yard line. Darryl Richard proceeded to tackle Eagles running back Jeff Smith for a four-yard loss.

Two plays later, Vance Walker sacked quarterback Chris Crane in the end zone for a safety. “I’ve never had a safety. It’s a good feeling,” Walker. The safety was the first for Tech since the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, when Richard had a sack against Syracuse.

The safety set up the Jackets at their own 46 yard line. Two plays of short yardage followed by a six-yard gain by quarterback Josh Nesbitt set up a first down on the BC 43. “[Nesbitt] made some great plays for us scrambling. He just made some great plays. A lot of our best run plays were him scrambling, or him just doing something on his own,” Johnson said.

On the next play, Nesbitt optioned to Dwyer, who was able to turn the corner and take the pitch the distance for the touchdown and, following an extra point kick, took a three-point lead and the game. “I saw the end and the linebacker both come to me, so I pitched it out and I knew once he got free, no one would catch him,” Nesbitt said.

The course of the game did not go from point A to point B, though, as five lead changes and three turnovers by each team told the story. Nesbitt, A-back Roddy Jones and receiver Tyler Melton were all responsible for fumbles in the first half.

Fortunately, the Tech defense stood up to the test, allowing just three points off of those turnovers. Likewise, the Eagles’ three turnovers also led to just three points. “The defense played great in the second half. Any time you force that many turnovers you ought to win the game,” Johnson said.

Scott Blair made his first field goal attempt, a 27-yarder from the middle of the field. The subsequent turnovers led to two missed opportunities, a 48-yarder from the middle that bounced off the up-right and a 47-yarder that missed wide right.

Tech punted in the opening possession of the game after a penalty on third and one led to a missed chance for the Jackets, and the Eagles started scoring early. BC started their possession on their own 35 yard line and marched 46 yards down field to set up a 36-yard field goal by Steve Aponavicius.

Tech returned the favor with their first scoring drive. Melton returned the kickoff 18 yards to the Tech 26. Jones rushed for nine yards, followed by a Nesbitt run for a first down. Nesbitt then completed two straight passes to Melton and Demariyus Thomas, both for first downs.

Nesbitt then turned a third down play into a 26 yard gain. Dwyer carried the ball on the next play for 12 yards before Nesbitt took the ball in for his third touchdown of the year.

BC took advantage of good field position, as they would score two field goals through the rest of the first half. The Eagles, though, could not take advantage of a 30-yard field goal with time winding down in the first half.

With 30 seconds left, the Eagles called on Aponavicius for the field goal attempt. BC snapped the ball, and the kick was up and through before the referees waived off the attempt to signal a time-out by Johnson right before the snap. BC had to kick again and missed going into half time.

While the Eagles came out in the second half and coughed the ball up twice on consecutive drives, the third possession carried the Eagles into the end zone. Crane converted a third and 11 with a 15-yard pass to Ryan Purvis.

Three plays later, Tech was called for pass interference near the end zone to put the ball on the Tech eight yard line. Crane passed complete to Ifeanyi Momah, who wrestled the ball away from Jahi Word-Daniels for the touchdown.

The Jackets are preparing this week for their next game against the dual quarterback offense of Virginia Tech.