Boston College wants its offense to be rooted in its run game.
The Eagles are hoping their efforts on the ground Saturday can be a step in re-establishing that identity.
Former Highlands High School and University of Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles rushed for two touchdowns and added two more in the air as Boston College defeated Wagner 42-10.
Jon Hilliman ran for two more touchdowns for the Eagles (2-2), who won their 25th straight game against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
Wagner (2-1) wasn’t rattled early, scoring on its second drive of the game to take an early 7-0 lead. But after the Seahawks pulled within 14-10 early in the second quarter, BC took control, and scored the final 28 points of the game.
Boston College Coach Steve Addazio expressed discontent this week with his team’s inability to run the ball consistently over its first three games, after being among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best rushing teams his first three seasons in Boston.
BC had just 44 yards rushing in last week’s 49-0 loss at Virginia Tech, its fewest since 28 at N.C. State in 2015. The Eagles entered Saturday ranked second from last in the ACC in rushing at just 124.4 yards per game.
They had 188 yards rushing at halftime against Wagner, and finished with 300 yards on the ground for the day.
“We wanted to emphasize running the football today and we did that,” Addazio said.
Towles said the success on the ground helped relax the entire offense.
“That was big for us,” he said. “We’ve traditionally been a good running football team here. It hasn’t been to our standards the first few weeks of the season. I know that’s one thing we really focused on this week.”
Towles’ day ended after three quarters. He was 9-for-16 for 157 yards passing and rushed seven times for 46 yards. Hilliman rushed 19 times for 83 yards, and Davon Jones also rushed 12 times for 90 yards.
After giving up the early score, Boston College’s defense tightened, holding to Seahawks to just 89 total yards in the first half, and minus 2 yards in the third quarter.
The Eagles outgained Wagner 490-107 in total yards for the game.
Wagner Coach Jason Houghtaling said after some early stands, the Seahawks’ defense started to show fatigue as the game progressed.
“The longer they were on the field, the size of the offensive line, the physicality of the running backs, absolutely I think it wore down,” he said.
Wagner: The Seahawks held their own early with a FBS opponent, which should give them a boost going into its conference schedule.
Boston College: The Eagles wanted to begin breathing life into what had been an anemic offense at times in their first three games. BC established the run early, and was able to get touchdowns in the red zone — a positive with the meat of the ACC schedule still remaining. But penalties remain a concern. The Eagles had seven for 85 yards on Saturday, including a few that took away big plays.
Boston College: Improved to 25-1 all-time against FCS schools. For the first time this season the Eagles did not turn the ball over and did not cause a turnover.
Wagner: Saturday marked just the second time in the Seahawks’ six games against Football Bowl Subdivision schools that they have reached double digits. The only previous time was in a 56-16 loss to Rice in 2015.
BC’s Tyler Rouse was active on both kickoff and punt returns Saturday, setting up a pair of Eagles’ touchdown runs with career-long kickoff and punt returns. With BC trailing 7-0, he set up the Eagles’ in Wagner territory with a 44-yard kickoff return. Hilliman scored from 1-yard out five plays later. Then, in the third quarter, he broke loose for a 53-yard punt return to set up a 6-yard Hilliman touchdown run.
Wagner: The Seahawks return home next week to host Sacred Heart in its Northeast Conference opener.
Boston College: The Eagles continue their four-game home stand next week with a visit from Mid-American Conference Buffalo.