CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Had Virginia Tech not accumulate a ton of injuries and not commit costly turnovers, we might be talking about a different ball game.
The Hokies turned the ball over five times and gave up 356 yards in the first half. They didn’t have an answer for A.J. Dillion coming through the holes.
Virginia Tech lost a mistake-filled opener 35-28 to Boston College in their season-opener at Alumni Stadium.
“To me, it’s a statement game because, A, we’re 1-0, B, we got a conference win, and C, we got battle-tested out here against a really quality football team and a really, really quality defensive football team.” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said.
Eagles ‘quarterback Anthony Brown completed 15 of 26 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with eight receivers, including tight end Hunter Long, who caught four passes for 53 yards.
Kobay White had three catches for 73 yards and a score while Flowers turned two catches into 91 yards and a touchdown.
“This is my fourth year being here. It’s time for me to step up. It’s time for me to be a leader in all areas and aspects of the game. I would say we need a leader, we need somebody to step up and it has to be me. We were missing that the past two years and right now I’m just ready to step into that role.” Brown said.
The Hokies had a chance to get the ball back in the final minutes but couldn’t get a stop on a crucial third-and-9 play. Quarterback Ryan Willis made it a one-possession game on the previous drive when he threw an 11-yard dart touchdown pass to Kaleb Smith with 2:13 left on the clock.
The Eagles recovered an onside kick attempt and running back A.J. Dillon got the first down, the Eagles needed to run out the clock.
“Our guys battled back, scratched and clawed all the way through, but came up short. Lord knows we made plenty of mistakes out there today.” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said.
A 1-yard touchdown dive play from David Bailey with 7:53 left in the contest helped put the game out of reach. The massive Eagles offensive took a toll on Tech’s defensive front running the ball nine straight times on that scoring drive.
It was Boston College’s only extended drive of the half that put together an impressive offensive highlight reel early in the game.
Tech quarterback Ryan Willis had a turnover-prone game against BC. He accounted for four of the team’s five turnovers. He threw a pair of interceptions in the end zone and another to one-time Hokies recruiting target Tanner Karafa on an attempted screen to Deshawn McClease.
Willis finished 29 of 47 for 344 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
“We got to be better than that,” Fuente said of Willis’ performance. “We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to have our eyes in the right spot, that’s part of playing quarterback. Obviously, he forced some balls in there sometimes when they weren’t good. I still believe Ryan can make plays and take care of the football.”
Willis fumbled at his own 12-yard line after defensive back Tate Haynes, who came off the right corner on a blitz, hit him hard. Willis slammed his fist on the ground in frustration after the play. Anthony Brown hit Kobay White for a touchdown three plays later with 6:20 to go in the half. White made a diving catch right at the pylon for the score that was upheld on review by the referees.
Hezekiah Grimsley fumbled a couple of minutes later trying to field a punt. Grimsley signaled for a fair catch, but the ball went right through his hands. Brown scored his fourth touchdown of the half — this one was a 28-yard keeper — to make it 28-14.
Willis hit a wide-open play to Grimsley for a 55-yard touchdown, Tech’s first touchdown of the season. Tech also looked crisp on their nine-play 88-yard scoring drive. Tre Turner had multiple touches and three receivers made their first career catch (Kaleb Smith, James Mitchell and Tayvion Robinson). Robinson made a nice cut to get open for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Eagles offense had some red zone issues in the first half, but consistently moved the ball.
Brown got the Eagles on the board early throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Zay Flowers, who blew past Tech defensive back Jovonn Quillen in coverage.
The fourth-year junior completed another bomb — this time for 56-yards to Kobay White — but Boston College didn’t come up with any points on the drive after missing a 38-yard field goal that came up a little short. The possession stalled inside the 30-yard line thanks to a couple of procedural penalties. Brown also completed a 58-yarder to Flowers in the first half.
Boston College went into the break with 356 yards with 258 of those coming through the air. Brown finished the game 15 of 26 for 275 yards with three total touchdowns.
The Hokies did do a great job of keeping Boston College’s all-world running back Dillon at bay. Dillon had nine carries for 22 yards in the first quarter. He had a 17-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but he only averaged 3.5 yards a carry for the game.
“It’s always nice adding some new cars to the garage, man,” Brown said. “It’s really a blessing, the kid is very, very talented. Zay and Kobay did a great job today. But overall, we have a ton of guys that can make plays and we’re ready to keep it going for the rest of the season.”