Eagles Headed Toward Bowl After Big Win
Nov. 14, 1999
By HOWARD ULMAN
BOSTON (AP) - Bring on Notre Dame. Bring on Virginia Tech. Bring on the bowls.
It's all gravy now for Boston College, enjoying its best season since 1994 and ranked for the first time since it ended that year in the 23rd spot.
The No. 25 Eagles, rebuilding since being rocked by a gambling scandal during the 1996 season, dominated West Virginia 34-17 Saturday to improve to 7-2.
Although no bids have been extended, the Eagles should be headed to a bowl - with the leading prospects appearing to be the Music City Bowl in Nashville on Dec. 29 and the Insight.com Bowl in Tucson on Dec. 31.
"The more wins we get, the better bowl game we get," said quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, who ran for one touchdown and passed for another Saturday.
BC's last two games are on the road at Notre Dame (5-5) and second-ranked Virginia Tech (9-0). The Eagles' 4-2 Big East record trails only Virginia Tech and Miami. But their overall record is second best among the conference's teams.
Saturday's game was especially significant for the seniors, who were playing at Alumni Stadium for the last time and had never been to a bowl.
"I know the seniors wanted to go out on a good note," said freshman receiver Jamal Burke, who set up one of John Matich's two field goals with a 50-yard pass play and Hasselbeck's scoring run with a 31-yard reception. "They're going to remember this for the rest of their lives."
The Eagles led only 17-10 at halftime and the Mountaineers (3-7, 2-4) were at the BC 32-yard line and driving for the tying score. But a botched reverse play between quarterback Brad Lewis and receiver Khori Ivy was fumbled. Pedro Cirino recovered and raced 63 yards for the touchdown.
"If any one play changed the momentum of the game, that one did," BC coach Tom O'Brien said.
West Virginia coach Don Nehlen realized he shouldn't have called the play when he saw BC change its defense after the teams had lined up.
"We took the ball and went right down the field and then had that dang reverse, that stupid reverse," Nehlen said. "That was the play that murdered us."
Another big play made things worse for the Mountaineers as Hasselbeck and Dedrick Dewalt connected for a 66-yard pass play, giving the Eagles a 31-10 lead. with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
"Our kids played hard," Nehlen said, "but I think when you have a bad season like this, they get a little frustrated with themselves."
BC has known its share of frustration, playing four seasons without a winning record since going 7-4 and winning the Aloha Bowl in 1994.
Now it has a decent chance to beat Notre Dame, which lost Saturday to a Pittsburgh team the Eagles had beaten, and improve its bowl position.
"This season, we've made a statement to everyone in Boston," Cirino said. "Teams aren't going to come in here expecting to beat us like they have in the past and we expect to beat them."