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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — With Halloween looming, the Boston College Eagles dug into their bag of tricks to beat Florida State.
BC struck first with a reverse-pass from receiver Jeff Smith to Kobay White, and the Eagles never looked back on the way to a 35-3 victory over the Seminoles on Friday night here at Alumni Stadium.
Nyqwan Murray caught three passes for 102 yards to lead FSU (2-5, 2-4 ACC), which will return home to face Syracuse next Saturday (12:20 p.m., ACC Network).
“In every phase, they beat us,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They lined up, kicked our tails and outplayed us, outcoached us, did everything.”
Save for a few big gains by the Florida State passing game, the night belonged to Boston College.
The Eagles amassed 241 rushing yards on the way to their third straight game with at least 35 points, a stretch that started two weeks ago with a win at Louisville and continued last week in a victory at Virginia.
Freshman A.J. Dillon led the charge with 149 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, and helped make up for a BC passing game that mustered only 88 yards, 34 of which came via that trick play.
The combination of an early BC lead and an effective running game made things difficult for the FSU offense, which despite having the ball for 13 drives finished with just 24:45 of possession time.
“They just line up. They don’t come with any surprises,” FSU safety Derwin James said of the BC running game. “They come in with big guys, fundamental guys, technique guys and guys that have got the will and drive that they want to run the ball. They do a great job.”
“They can eat clock as they go,” Fisher added. “You get limited possessions when you play those kinds of teams and you’ve got to capitalize when you get down there (with chances to score points).”
The Seminoles, meanwhile, hurt themselves with three turnovers that the Eagles turned into 14 points.
The first giveaway came at a particularly damaging time, with FSU trailing 7-0 and holding the ball inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line after a 47-yard running back pass from Akers to Murray.
But rather than capitalize on a trick play of their own and score a touchdown that might have changed the complexion of the game, FSU fumbled away a handoff between Akers and fellow freshman James Blackman, and the Eagles recovered.
Boston College (5-4, 3-3 ACC) would later use an interception to build a 21-3 lead at halftime, with the Seminoles’ points coming via a 36-yard field goal from Ricky Aguayo.
“Those two critical turnovers were very big,” Fisher said. “…When we get down there, we’ve got to put points on the board.”
Aided by a fumbled punt return and a turnover on downs, the Eagles added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to provide the final margin. FSU finished without a touchdown for the first time since Sept. 20, 2008, a span of 124 games.
Blackman completed 11 of 26 passes for 102 yards and an interception, and finished without a touchdown pass for the first time in six starts.
Akers added 42 yards on 18 carries, and Amir Rasul chipped in another 25 yards in four attempts.
“We didn’t play up to our potential and pretty much got outplayed,” center Alec Eberle said. “Our team has always had pretty good confidence. We always tend to bounce back from problems. I think, today, we just didn’t have our game.”
The Seminoles were up against an emotionally charged Eagles team that was playing at home for the first time since turning its season around against Louisville and Virginia. Not only that, but Friday marked BC’s annual “Red Bandanna” game, which honors the memory of Welles Crowther, the former BC lacrosse player who sacrificed his life to save others during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2011.
Given the circumstances, Fisher figured the Seminoles would need to be at their best. Instead, FSU fell into the exact type of script that can lead to difficult losses on the road: an early deficit, followed by missed opportunities and turnovers.
“We knew they were playing well,” he said. “They were going to be excited. They were going to come play well. We knew (we needed to) match their energy. …
“We didn’t match it. And when that happened, it just kept going.”