Boston College Eagles: Excruciating loss in Death Valley

Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Dennis Grosel (6) throws under pressure form Clemson Tigers linebacker James Skalski (47) at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Dennis Grosel (6) throws under pressure form Clemson Tigers linebacker James Skalski (47) at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Opportunities presented themselves time and time again for the Boston College Eagles Saturday night against the Clemson Tigers.

An inch here, a better thrown ball there, and the result may have been different for Boston College (4-1). Instead, a bad snap on the final drive encapsulated all that went wrong for the Eagles’ offense Saturday night as the Tigers (3-2) held on for a 19-13 victory.

One might call the performance a comedy of errors if Boston College had been able to pull off the victory. Boston College finally was rolling on offense in the final five minutes with two drives that could have led to a lead change. Both ultimately stalled out because of penalties and fumbled/mishandled snaps.

The final drive, with just under two minutes left, saw the Eagles move the ball down to the Clemson 11-yard line with under a minute to play.

On a night when the offense struggled, the defense and special teams had a gritty and inspired effort. One that nearly had Boston College singing about an upset victory instead of a heartbreaking loss.

Boston College Eagles defense brings the hammer

Up to the task, the defense had a game, coming up with timely plays when needed.

They certainly weren’t perfect in allowing 231 rushing yards, well-above their season average. But the unit should definitely be commended for allowing Clemson to score only one touchdown.

The Eagles managed to get pressure on Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Though it only resulted in one late-game sack — by safety Jason Maitre — it was enough to make Uiagalelei work for his yards in the air (207) and on the ground (50).

Brandon Barlow was constantly around the ball all night. Barlow helped clog up the running lanes and finished with seven tackles, second to Isaiah Graham-Mobley’s eight.

Kam Arnold and Jaiden Woodbey also had outstanding games.

Clemson helped out with some dropped passes and inaccurate throws by Uiagalelei. Still, the secondary, and entire defense, was aggressive. It’s definitely a unit that continues to impress, especially when it comes to buckling down in the red zone.

Third-conversions were an area the Boston College defense again excelled at. Clemson was only 3-14 and had only six first-downs in the second-half.

Special teams were also a plus, as Boston College blocked a punt and punter Grant Carlson averaged 49.2 yards per punt, including a 72-yarder early in the game. The field position game was incredible on a night the offense struggled to string together much success.

Struggles all game for Boston College Eagles offense

To begin with, Clemson has a talented defense. That much cannot be denied.

Equally fair, however, is that Boston College was given plenty of opportunities on offense to put this game away.

Holding calls and illegal formations hindered progress. False starts and illegal receiver downfield calls also played into the outcome, with the Eagles being flagged for three straight penalties on their second-to-last drive.

Overthrown deep balls and two Dennis Grosel interceptions didn’t help matters, either.

Grosel had trouble connecting — or even finding much — on downfield opportunities, especially in the first-half.

It was much better to open the second-half, where a pinpoint drive found Grosel connecting with tight ends Trae Barry (33 yards) and Joey Luchetti (39). The drive was finished by a Pat Garwo III 3-yard touchdown run and Boston College was in business with things tied up at 13.

Unfortunately, the fluidity of that drive didn’t show up again until late the fourth-quarter, where miscues did them in.

Grosel ended up 23-40 for 311 yards, finishing the game completing 12 of his last 16 passes. Barry had an efficient game, hauling in seven catches for 82 yards.

Zay Flowers was mostly kept in check, not recording his first reception until the fourth quarter. But he finished those last two drives totaling five catches for 70 yards. Flowers was targeted 11 times, so it’s not like he wasn’t silent on the field. Grosel just couldn’t seem to connect with the star receiver until late in the game.

Next. Boston College Eagles: Top 5 tight ends in school history. dark

All told, it was a valiant effort by Boston College. A close loss like this one can be excruciating. The good thing to take away is that this team has the talent to win the ACC Atlantic division (despite three teams currently ranked in the top-25). There were moments on display tonight, and hopefully be a lot more as the season continues.