Boston College blew a fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Georgia Tech in its season opener in Ireland. In the Eagles’ finale, they showed they had learned how to hold on for a victory.
Patrick Towles, a graduate transfer from the University of Kentucky who starred in high school at Highlands, threw two touchdown passes and caught a pass for a score in the first half, helping Boston College beat Maryland 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl on Monday.
The Eagles (7-6) led by 16 at halftime, 23 points early in the third quarter and then had to force Maryland to turn the ball over on downs late in the game to seal their first bowl victory since beating Michigan State at the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl.
“We started to really develop a resolve that you see in the players’ eyes,” Boston College Coach Steve Addazio said. “The most critical thing in building your program is having that. And, I really believe we have finally set that platform forward and that’s the most exciting thing to me of all.”
Towles was thrilled to close his college career with a victory.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s my first bowl game and my first bowl win – our, as a team, first bowl victory (at Boston College) in nine years. This is something you can really build upon. Going to bowl games are great; I will never take that for granted, but winning a bowl game is a different level.”
Maryland (6-7) had the ball at its 35 with 1:48 left with a chance to drive for a go-ahead TD.
“That’s all you can ask for,” Maryland Coach DJ Durkin said. “You’ll take that in any game.”
But the Terrapins didn’t gain a yard before Harold Landry helped finish them off with a possession-ending sack.
Maryland made some big plays on offense, but four turnovers, eight sacks allowed, 11 penalties and poor field position proved to be costly. In the first half, Perry Hills threw an interception, lost a fumble and was sacked four times. On the Terrapins’ first snap of the second half, Hills handed off to Ty Johnson and the running back’s fumble was recovered in the end zone by Boston College.
With 4:02 left, the Terrapins got to the Boston College 1 with a chance to cut into their nine-point deficit and Hills lost a fumble after bobbling a snap. They got the ball back less than a minute later when Boston College’s Jon Hilliman fumbled at his 6, and were forced to settle for a field goal.
“The program is headed in the right direction, but we have to learn to not beat ourselves,” Durkin said.
On a reverse and pass from receiver Jeff Smith, Towles scored on a 20-yard TD catch in the second quarter to give Boston College a 23-7 lead.
“I’m just glad that I caught it and didn’t get ran down,” Towles said.
It was a play the Eagles had ran before.
“I think we’ve practiced it since Week 3,” Towles said. “Then we ran it once against Clemson and once against NC State. It actually worked out; we get so much more prep in three weeks that we got to really prepare and we started to do a lot of no-huddle stuff.”
Johnson had 62- and 30-yard TD runs in the first half and a 29-yard run early in the fourth quarter that gave Maryland the ball in Eagles territory, but it turned the ball over on downs at the 41.
“He’s consistently been a big-play guy for us all year,” Durkin said.
Hills threw a 63-yard TD pass to Teldrick Morgan and a 52-yard pass to Levern Jacobs for a score to get Maryland within nine points.
GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE
The announced attendance was 19,117 and the actual crowd appeared to be about half of that total.
Landry was the only player in the game on The Associated Press All-America team, earning second-team honors, and showed why he merited the recognition. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior entered with 15 sacks, tying with Florida State’s DeMarcus Walker for the most in the nation, and had 1 1 / 2sacks against Maryland. Landry also had a one-handed interception and deflected passes on consecutive plays on Maryland’s drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with a fumble.
Addazio said he and Landry have talked about his upcoming decision, to stay for his senior season or to enter the NFL Draft, and will discuss the topic again soon after gathering information.
“My thing is, you do what’s best for the players,” Addazio said. “If it’s best for a player to leave, you advise him that.”
MISSING FOR MARYLAND
The Terrapins were without their leading tackler, linebacker Shane Cockerille, who was ruled ineligible. Durkin and school officials declined to provide details.
Maryland: Durkin, a first-year head coach, has built a career on defense and special teams. The Terrapins struggled on defense against a previously offensively challenged team, giving him plenty to work on in the offseason.
Boston College: The Eagles were impressive on offense in the first half, scoring 29 points and gaining 238 yards, with a creative mix of plays through the air and on the ground before appearing to relax and regress.
Maryland: With Hills out of eligibility, the Terrapins will have North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson and highly touted freshman Kasim Hill competing for the job. Maryland will play Sept. 2 at Texas in Tom Herman’s coaching debut with the Longhorns.
Boston College: The Eagles also will be looking also be looking for a new quarterback. To replace the departing Towles next season, Connor Strachan and Darius Wade will have a shot in the spring and summer to take the first snap when Boston College opens the 2017 season Sept. 1 at Northern Illinois.