The long awaited debut for new head coach Jeff Hafley and the 2020 Boston College Eagles proved to be well worth the wait.
A halftime lead of 7-6 for the Boston College Eagles football team was as worrisome as the score indicated. Failures to capitalize on Duke turnovers and the lack of an attack on offense had many wondering if this wasn’t the same Boston College team we’d seen in seasons past.
The second-half turned those thoughts around in a resounding manner.
Jurkovec threw for 300 yards and the Boston College (1-0) defense forced five turnovers in making a victor of Jeff Hafley in his head-coaching debut.
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There were plenty of standouts on both sides of the ball and we’ll start with a defense that looked strong most of the day.
Boston College Eagles defense turn it up
Creating five turnovers is a fantastic day for any defense, even if the offense wasn’t able to back it up by scoring more points.
Still, there’s something to be said by forcing three turnovers when Duke was in the red zone.
The first occurred in the second quarter when Chibueze Onwuka — with Boston College backed up against their goal line — forced a fumble, which was recovered by Marcus Valdez.
Both Onwuka and Valdez were disruptive up front all day, notably in the first half. The two combined for nine tackles, with Valdez picking up a sack in the second quarter.
Linebackers Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie, two veterans of the unit, were all over the field as well. Richardson led the team with eight tackles while McDuffie picked up Boston College’s first turnover, intercepting Duke’s Chase Brice in the second quarter.
McDuffie also added six tackles.
Not to be left out, the secondary also contributed to the turnover deluge. Sophomore Josh DeBerry stopped a third quarter Blue Devil drive in the red zone with a nice strip of Damond Philyaw-Johnson. And Deon Jones combined with Mike Palmer to pick up a sack, with Jones knocking the ball loose from Brice and recovering the fumble.
Jones finished second on the team with seven tackles.
The fifth turnover belonged to Jahmin Muse, who easily picked off an overthrown ball by Brice.
Boston College Eagles offense off to a good start
It took until midway into the third quarter but we finally got to see Phil Jurkovec really air things out.
Helping things along was the play of Zay Flowers, who found plenty of open spaces to extend plays all afternoon.
A sophomore receiver, Flowers made things look easy all day, sprinting past defenders and throwing in a few jukes for good measure.
Flowers had a career day, finishing with five catches for 162 yards and a touchdown reception of 61 yards, a play in which he found himself wide open deep in the secondary.
This was the first 100-yard game by a receiver since Kobay White did so against Florida State in 2018. White, who has been battling an injury and just returned to practice this past week, did not suit up. He is expected to again be one of the top receivers for Boston College.
Tight end Hunter Long was also a favorite target of Jurkovec, hauling in seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Phil Jurkovec had an early interception but on the afternoon was more effective than not. He finished the day 17-23 and completed his last ten passes, all of which were on scoring drives for the Eagles.
Other Boston College Eagles improvements
A win is a win but there are certainly improvements to take away from the first game of 2020.
Travis Levy had 65 yards on only five carries while David Bailey, Jr carried the ball 18 times for 51 yards. There wasn’t much room for the duo to run most of the day, a bit surprising given the experience of Boston College’s offensive line.
Troubling, too, was that Phil Jurkovec took six sacks. Some of that will get figured out as the season progresses — and did so throughout the game — but protection seemed a little shaky on the left side of the line.
And for all the good the defense did on Saturday, they did have some trouble with third-down conversions. After beginning the game with 2 three-and-outs, the defense allowed five straight third-down conversions at one point, finishing the game by allowing a third-down conversion rate of 56.2 percent.
All told, it was a wonderful way to kick-off the Jeff Hafley era at Boston College. The Eagles will look to make it two in a row when they host Texas State on 9/26.