BOSTON (AP) One week after USC athletic director Pat Haden was fined for going to the sideline to argue with the officials, there was his Boston College counterpart, Brad Bates, helping students over the railing as they stormed the field to celebrate the Eagles’ upset of the ninth-ranked Trojans.
Wearing red bandannas to honor a BC grad who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, the fans let their emotion spill out long after midnight following the 37-31 victory. Inside the locker room, the Eagles (2-1) were just starting to realize what they had done.
”Everybody was so hyped up about this win,” linebacker Josh Keyes said. ”It feels like a dream and I feel like I’m not in real life right now.”
Quarterback Tyler Murphy ran for 191 yards, including a 66-yard clinching touchdown with 3:30 left in the first victory for an unranked BC team over a top 10 opponent since 2002. The Eagles had never beaten USC (2-1), which climbed five spots in the rankings after an emotional last-minute victory over Pac-12 rival Stanford.
”You dream about this in your backyard: beating one of the top teams in the country,” said BC running back Jon Hilliman, who ran for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
A crowd of 41,632 – about 3,000 short of capacity – waited out an early downpour for the nationally televised Saturday night game. Scouts from a half-dozen NFL teams were in the press box; it’s safe to say they were not there to scout the Eagles.
But they saw BC running back Myles Willis and receiver Sherman Alston each break off runs of 50-plus yards to help BC amass 452 rushing yards compared to 20 for USC. The Eagles sacked Cody Kessler five times, dropping the Trojans for a loss 16 times in all.
”We sacked them. We harassed them. We played relentlessly on defense,” said second-year BC coach Steve Addazio, who earned the biggest win of his tenure in Chestnut Hill. ”That’s a good football team. … Anybody who was at the game would say that this team just wouldn’t back down. We just kept coming and kept playing. I’m most proud of that.”
Addazio also praised his team for honoring the memory of Welles Crowther, a former BC lacrosse player and 1999 graduate who was working as a commodities trader when the airplanes hit the World Trade Center. Crowther was credited with saving at least a dozen people; they identified him by the red bandanna he always had with him.
The Eagles took the field with a bandanna design on their helmets, shoes and gloves, and when Crowther’s parents were recognized on the field both sidelines stopped to applaud. Afterward, Addazio awarded two game balls: One to Murphy and one to Crowther’s family.
”The red bandanna game meant a lot. We talked a lot about Welles Crowther; we talked a lot about who he was and what it takes to be a BC man,” said Addazio, who had one of the colorful handkerchiefs hanging out of each front pocket. ”Our guys dug deep on this. This was a great win.”
It was the first win for an unranked BC team over a top 10 foe was since a 2002 victory over No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, that cost the Irish a chance at the national championship. The Eagles lost to Pittsburgh in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener last week.
BC plays Maine on Saturday.
”This game doesn’t make a year, but it’s certainly a great springboard as we move forward to wipe that taste of a week ago out,” Addazio said. ”We’re going to savor this moment as a team … then you get back to work.”