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Challenger's Late Touchdown Lifts No. 14 Boston College To 35-30 Win Over Wake Forest

Boston College's Kevin Challenger hauls in the game-winning touchdeon pass as Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith defends late in the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Boston. Boston College won 35-30. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Boston College's Kevin Challenger hauls in the game-winning touchdeon pass as Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith defends late in the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Boston. Boston College won 35-30. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Oct. 15, 2005

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BOSTON (AP) - The field was soaked. The ball was slippery. And just when it seemed like Boston College couldn't catch a pass, Kevin Challenger gripped one tightly.

"It was pretty tough holding onto the ball, the way the rain was coming down," the BC receiver said after his game-winning, foot-dragging touchdown catch with 1:18 left gave No. 14 Boston College a 35-30 victory over Wake Forest. "I just had to try to catch with my body, because it was going right through my hands."

On a wet and windy day that contributed to five BC turnovers, a blocked punt and at least 10 dropped passes, the Eagles (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell behind 17-0 and trailed again, 30-21, with 3:29 left when Matt Ryan replaced Quinton Porter at quarterback for the final two drives.

Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for a 38-yard touchdown pass to pull BC within two with 2:30 left, but an excessive celebration penalty forced the Eagles to kick off from their own 20.

After stopping Wake Forest, BC moved to the Wake Forest 26 when linebacker Aaron Curry was called for pass interference. On the next play, Ryan threw to the left side of the end zone, and Challenger kicked his feet across the soaked turf while falling out of bounds to catch the ball.

The officials made no ruling for a few seconds, then signaled an incomplete pass. A short conference resulted in a touchdown signal, but it wasn't final until the replay officials reviewed it. It was the first career touchdown catch for Challenger, a sophomore.

"Getting his feet in - that was a pretty tremendous play. You've got to hold your breath, but the review worked very well for us today," said Ryan, who played in three previous games this year when Porter was injured. "You can't be surprised as a backup. You've got to be ready to go at all times."

Wake Forest (2-5, 1-3) had 1:12 left, but Nick Larkin sacked Cory Randolph near midfield on the final play to set off another BC celebration.

The victory - without injured defensive starts Mathias Kiwanuka and Al Washington - made the Eagles eligible for a bowl game for a school-record seventh consecutive year. It also repaid Wake Forest for the previous two games - both won by the Demon Deacons in the final two minutes.

"Well, just another typical Boston College-Wake Forest game," BC coach Tom O'Brien said. "The third time's a charm for us."

Ryan was 7-for-9 for 134 yards and two touchdowns in two series, relieving Porter after he threw three interceptions and completed 20 of 41 passes for 184 yards. Randolph went 21-for-33 for 193 yards and a touchdown for Wake Forest, which has lost six in a row to ranked teams and has not beaten one on the road since 1979.

"It was a crazy game," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "A lot of that stuff happened in the first half and, obviously, we didn't take advantage of it like we could have."

Andre Callender fumbled the opening kickoff to set up Wake Forest's opening field goal. The teams traded punts, and when the Eagles got the ball back near the end of the first, they gave it away again on first down when Porter fumbled the snap, recovered it and coughed it up again.

Jon Abbate picked up the ball and stumbled toward the end zone; it was first ruled a touchdown before the officials placed the ball at the 1. Chris Barclay ran it in from the 1 on third down to make it 10-0.

Alphonso Smith intercepted Porter at the Wake Forest 5, keeping the Eagles off the board at the end of the first quarter. Wake Forest was unable to convert, but on its next possession Randolph hit Nate Morton on a 29-yard touchdown to make it 17-0 with 8:34 left in the half.

Larry Lester, who dropped several key passes, caught a 37-yard touchdown pass to pull BC within 10, 17-7. But the Eagles went three-and-out on their last possession of the half and Smith blocked the punt and recovered it to set up Sam Swank's 32-yard field goal to make it 20-7 as the half ended.

Porter also fumbled the ball in the third quarter on a scramble to the Wake Forest 3, but the turnover was negated by a defensive holding penalty. He hit Chris Miller from the two to make it 20-14 on a pass that went through a defender's hands.

BC took a 21-20 lead on Brian Toal's 1-yard plunge, but Josh Gattis returned another Porter interception 29 yards for a touchdown to give Wake Forest the lead again 40 seconds into the fourth quarter and then. After Porter threw his third interception, Swank kicked a 34-yard field goal with 3:36 to play to make it 30-21.

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