The Eagles rushed for 264 yards, a breakout performance for a team that before Saturday ranked second to last in the FBS at 2.2 yards per carry and whose season high was 90 yards. Boston College, whose run game was so ineffective that it had run only 43% of the time, ran 44 times out of 65 plays, including 65% of its first-half plays as it charged to a 34-14 halftime lead. Tech has now been outscored 168-62 in the first half, while second-half scoring has been 79-75 in the opponents' favor.
Poor run defense, however, was only part of the problem. Most notably, the Jackets' three turnovers, a fumbled shotgun snap by Jeff Sims, a fumble on a run play by running back Jordan Mason (playing for the first time since the season opener after a foot injury) and an interception by Sims. Both Sims turnovers were deep in Tech’s end and set up touchdowns, and Mason’s fumble was returned 33 yards for a touchdown.
Tech now has 18 turnovers for the season, among the most in FBS and two shy of its season total from last year. Further, the Jackets did not get any takeaways.
“Everything has to do with giving the other team the ball,” said wide receiver Ahmarean Brown, who caught his first touchdown pass of the season and ran for another.
After the third-quarter interception, Sims was taken out of the game and replaced by James Graham, who had not played in the first five games and has not been on the “Above the Line” chart since the third game of the season. In for four possessions, Graham led the Jackets on a 55-yard touchdown drive.
Collins said that Sims was taken out of the game because of the number of hits he had taken.
Penalties also were critical, starting with a false start by right tackle Jordan Williams on the opening drive as Tech was going for it on a fourth-and-8 from the Boston College 24-yard line, an apparent indication of Collins' lack of confidence in the placekicking game. Now facing fourth-and-13, Collins sent out the punt team, and punter Pressley Harvin’s pass into the end zone on a gadget play fell incomplete.
Early in the second quarter with the score 17-0 in Boston College’s favor, Jahmyr Gibbs ran a kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. Two plays later, Mason’s fumble as he tried to move the pile was returned by Boston College safety Mike Palmer 33 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead, a seismic 14-point swing.
With the score 31-14 following a Sims 31-yard touchdown pass to Peje' Harris later in the second quarter, two more Tech penalties (an offsides on Antonneous Clayton on fourth-and-1 and a pass interference on Tre Swilling on third-and-3) and missed tackles kept Boston College’s ensuing drive going, leading to a field goal.
Collins acknowledged that many of the penalties were a matter of a lack of discipline.
“We’ve got to be able to execute that at a high level,” he said. “Those are things that can get very frustrating. Those will be addressed.”
The Eagles' offensive line wore down Tech’s defense, and the Jackets didn’t help themselves with a slew of missed tackles.
To whatever degree the game was still in doubt after halftime, Boston College removed all of it on its opening drive of the third quarter. Taking the ball at its 25-yard line, Boston College exploited Tech’s poor tackling and failure to keep track of all 11 Eagles players.
On a play-action pass, Jurkovec found tight end Hunter Long wide open for a 16-yard gain. Jurkovec pulled a handoff and rumbled for 13 yards. Running back David Bailey then broke three arm tackles on his way to a 34-yard touchdown run for a 41-14 lead.
“Guys have got to use their eyes well. Guys have got to have their eyes where they’re supposed to be on every play and not be selfish and not make selfish decisions and just make the plays,” linebacker David Curry said.
Curry said that Boston College, as other opponents have, ran plays that they had run little or not at all. He said it was incumbent on the defense to be on the same page with each other.
"Because that’s what offenses are going to try to do, " he said. “They’re going to try to do things that we haven’t seen get us off-balance.”