Sept. 16, 2007
By Jack Wilkinson
With 3:34 left during halftime, the main scoreboard — which, like the Georgia Tech offense, had been largely inoperative most of the first half — flashed the big question:
“What’s the good word?”
Let’s see. The Ladies of the Rings had just left the field and did so to a roaring, richly-deserved reception. The Tech women’s tennis team, which won the NCAA championship in Athens in May, received their national championship rings in a halftime ceremony.
Before the players departed, a short video was shown. It revealed the partial secret of their success: Their shoes, which they’d spray-painted yellow for good luck during their run to the title.
Thirty-two seconds later, alas, when the Yellow Jackets reappeared for the second-half kickoff, it was clear they hadn’t touched up their football shoes. No good vibes eminating down there. Not that it would’ve mattered.
Neither yellow-painted cleats, nor ruby red shoes, nor even glass slippers would’ve made a difference this clear, crisp evening. Not the way Matt Ryan played and Boston College contained Tashard Choice & Co.
On a night of opportunity as golden as its headgear, No. 15 Tech abruptly returned to earth Saturday. There was no shame in losing 24-10 to No. 21 BC, now 3-0 overall, 3-0 in conference play and already atop the early A-list for the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 1.
There was no shame in losing to an experienced Boston College team, one that certified itself as the class of the conference before a near-capacity, full-throated crowd of 51,112 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. No shame at all, after Tech fell behind 14-0 at halftime, then 21-0 midway through the third quarter but didn’t crumble.
When freshman Jonathan Dwyer scored from the 2 just 16 seconds into the fourth quarter, it was 21-7. After Tech’s recovery of a BC fumble on the ensuing kickoff was correctly overturned upon review, Taylor Bennett (20-for-39, 204 yards passing) took his team to the Eagles 12. He misfired twice in the end zone and Tech settled for Travis Bell’s 32-yard field goal, yet was still within 24-10 with fully 10:33 to play.
Then Ryan, BC’s senior quarterback, one of its co-captains and the ACC pre-season player of the year, resumed riddling Tech’s secondary.
Stopping captain Ryan? Not a chance.
He threw for two first downs, ran for a third and ran 6:01 off the clock before a Steve Aponavicious field goal restored the 14-point advantage. Ryan completed 30 of 44 passes for 435 yards (of BC’s 527 total). The last QB to throw for 400 yards versus Tech: Georgia’s Cory Phillips (413) in 2000. There’s no shame in losing to Matt Ryan.
After handling Wake Forest and N.C. State handily at home, after a successful first road game — “A barometer,” new BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski had called this one, “to see where our program is and to see where we are” — the Eagles return home for three certain victories against Army, Massachusetts and Bowling Green before venturing to Notre Dame and then Virginia Tech.
By the time BC plays at Clemson Nov. 17, the Eagles may well have clinched the Atlantic Division. By then, Tech (2-1, 0-1 ACC) may have captured the ACC Coastal and earned a rematch with BC. “We will get another shot at them,” insisted Bennett, who then regrettably added, “They got lucky one night. We played our worst game on that same night.”
Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, in light of Tech’s tepid rushing attack (63 yards, including 31 by Choice, whose string of 100-yard rushing games ended at nine), said, “It wasn’t that we couldn’t run on them. I’m just not sure we were calling the right plays.”
Indeed, Tech had several big plays called back, nullified by penalties or overturned upon further review. Unfortunately, that moved several Tech students in the south and north end zone sections to throw objects on the field. Others chanted profanely, obscenely, not befitting true Tech fans.
Who did they think they were, Maryland fans? Or the drunken Rutgers louts who taunted Navy — a service academy! — with obscenities a week ago? Once public address announcer John Pendergast advised, “Fans, do not throw objects on the field. You will be ejected and subject to prosecution,” all that stopped, thankfully.
Yes, much of the crowd was disappointed with the outcome. But no, this wasn’t hapless, 0-3 Notre Dame or Samford of the Gated Subdivision Series, or whatever they’re calling Division I-AA these days. This was Boston College, best in the ACC so far. The team Tech just might encounter again Dec. 1 in Jacksonville.