BOSTON (AP) — Boston College gave new coach Steve Addazio the victory he was hoping for and plenty of things for him to yell about during the week.
“I just wanted to have some good moments happen for the team. They came off a very disappointing season,” Addazio said after the Eagles overcame a slow start to beat Villanova 24-14 on Saturday. “We have a lot of work to do. We know what we’ve got ahead of us.”
Alex Amidon had 13 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown, and Chase Retting completed 23 of 30 passes for 285 yards and two TDs for BC. Andre Williams ran for 114 yards on 23 carries for the Eagles (1-0).
BC lost its last four games last season to finish with double-digits in losses for just the second time in school history. Coach Frank Spaziani was fired, and Addazio was brought up from Temple to turn things around.
It took a half longer than expected.
John Robertson ran for 94 yards and passed for 158 more for Villanova (0-1). Jamal Abdur-Rahman caught one TD pass and had a 47-yard touchdown run on a fake punt on the game’s opening drive. The Wildcats, a top 10 team in the Football Championship Subdivision, also led 14-7 before Boston College scored the next 17 points.
“After coming off a 2-10 year, you can’t wait to get back out there and prove that’s not going to happen again,” cornerback Bryce Jones said. “You can’t wait to hit somebody else. We just had to calm ourselves down. At the end of the second quarter, we started to and then we went into halftime and said to calm down, that stuff is done. Then we had a third quarter shutout and a fourth quarter shutout.”
The Eagles took the lead for good on a two-play drive with a 36-yard pass to Bobby Wolford and a 24-yard run by Williams to make it 21-14. Williams left the game with a strained hamstring and missed the fourth quarter; Addazio said he didn’t know how serious it is.
Trailing by 10 after a BC field goal, Villanova advanced to the Eagles’ 19 yard-line when Josh Keyes sacked Robertson and knocked the ball loose. Kasim Edebali, who on the previous possession hit Robertson as he threw to force an interception, recovered it to give the Eagles the ball at their own 39.
“Coach Addazio stressed that the first game of the season was going to be very tough,” Amidon said. “He preached all week that winning the game in the second half was going to be important, and that was our goal all week.”
It was the first meeting between the schools since 1980, but Addazio had faced the Wildcats in each year he was the head coach at Temple. He won those games by a combined score of 83-17. Villanova fell to 3-15 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
“I was proud of our kids. They gave everything they had and came up short,” Villanova coach Andy Talley said. “With eight or nine minutes left in the game, we were only down by a touchdown. If you had said, ‘Can you live with that?’ I would have said, ‘Yeah.'”
Talley said two players — safety Matt McCann and linebacker Pat Haggerty — could both be lost for the season, both with knee injuries.
The Wildcats took the lead on their opening drive when Abdur-Rahman, who was lined up as a blocker in punt formation, took the snap and then faked a handoff between his legs. While the defense — and the camera operator — followed the fake to the right, Abdur-Rahman went left and outran the slowly recovering defenders to the end zone.
Addazio said he wasn’t surprised that Talley went for it.
“Why wouldn’t he? Why wouldn’t he come out here and let it all out, empty the chamber?” Addazio said.
BC tied it after a fourth-down conversion of its own, making it 7-7 when Wolford ran it in from 1-yard out. But the Wildcats scored again on their next possession, getting a 37 yard scramble by Robertson to bring the ball to the BC 23 and then, three plays later, a 27-yard pass to Abdur-Rahman for the touchdown.
With a chance to go up two scores, Robertson threw behind an open receiver in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1 yard-line.
“That was critical,” Addazio said. “We found a way to stay off the field. At some point, we had to dig in and come back.”