Patrick Towles threw back-to-back touchdown passes to Jeff Smith, and Mike Knoll connected on a pair of field goals to help Boston College beat Massachusetts 26-7 on Saturday.
Towles, who starred in high school at Highlands and played for Kentucky before transferring to Boston College, completed 12 of 22 passes for 191 yards for the Eagles (1-1).
“On the first (TD), it was a double move and the second he just got behind the defense a little bit,” Towles said. “In high school we used to say ‘if someone is even they’re leaving’ and Jeff is that guy. If someone is running with Jeff, give him three more steps and he is by him and that is a good, fast secondary out there so that is just a testament to him.”
Smith had five catches for 98 yards, and Jon Hilliman ran 22 times for 54 yards and a 15-yard touchdown.
Towles also ran 12 times for 66 yards.
“A lot of times they covered people so 90 percent of the time I was running was because everyone was covered,” he said. “So I was just trying to move the chains and get the first down.”
BC was trailing 7-0 late in the second quarter when Towles, taking over at the UMass 46-yard line, found Smith on the first play of the drive. After the Minutemen fumbled at their own 36, Towles again hit Smith on the first play to give the Eagles the lead for good.
“Totally turned the game around,” BC Coach Steve Addazio said. “Now we have the ability to go and strike it (big).”
Knoll, who missed the first point-after attempt, converted this time to make it 13-7. A week after Eagles kicker Colton Lichtenberg missed two short field goals in a 17-14 loss to Georgia Tech, Knoll added third-quarter field goals of 40 and 37 yards.
Addazio said Lichtenberg was out with a strain in his kicking leg.
“It’s unfortunate Colton went down,” said Knoll, who handled kickoffs only in the opener. “But he’ll be back and we’ll all be kicking lights out.”
After the game, the Eagles could be heard whooping in their locker room, followed by a rendition of the fight song, “For Boston.”
“You need to enjoy the wins,” Addazio said. “This is a tough game, a tough business we’re all in. This easily could have been a different scenario, when you’re coming off what we came off of.”
UMass (0-2) put a scare into No. 25 Florida last week, trailing just 10-7 into the fourth quarter. Returning to their sometime home at Gillette Stadium, the Minutemen took a 7-0 lead on a 58-yard pass from Ross Comis to Adam Breneman late in the first quarter.
Comis went 11 of 28 for 145 yards and a touchdown. But he also had a pair of first-half fumbles and threw an interception in the third quarter; the turnovers led to 10 BC points.
“I can give you the old adage, ‘I’ll look at the tape.’ But, yeah, he lost the game. He’s the quarterback,” UMass Coach Mark Whipple said. “You don’t like to lose. We’ve only got two touchdowns in two games.”
A week after traveling to Ireland and losing to the Yellow Jackets thanks to a pair of missed, short field goals, the Eagles made their shortest road trip — down the road to the home of the New England Patriots. The stadium used by the Minutemen for half of their home games this season is actually closer to Boston College’s Chestnut Hill campus than UMass’ in Amherst.
The bright gold of the Eagles fans outnumbered the UMass fans in the sparse crowd. They were greeted by a giant banner of a screaming Tom Brady, which was hung by the Patriots to coincide with the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s suspension in the scandal that has come to be known as “Deflategate.”
BC: In light of BC’s struggles to win in the conference, finishing off the Minutemen gives them an FBS win before heading into the ACC opener against Virginia Tech next week.
UMASS: After staying close against No. 25 Florida, the Minutemen put another scare into a major college team. But Whipple’s independent team needs to finish off a victory if it is going to attract an invitation from a conference.
BC: Plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.
UMASS: Hosts Florida International on Saturday.