Not quite there yet

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – On Saturday, seventh-ranked Boston College (6-0) showed why it’s a BCS title contender this season while BG (3-2) spent much of the game searching for answers.

BC controlled the game from the outset and dominated the Falcons 55-24 in front of 40,117 at Alumni Stadium.

Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan has been considered by many to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate this year, and showed why Saturday. The Eagles’ offense was able to do almost anything they wanted, with Ryan completing 24 of 32 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite the deficit it would later face, BG scored first in the game. After winning the opening coin toss, the team marched 56 yards down the field, where kicker Sinisa Vrvilo nailed a 40-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 3-0. That would mark the last time BG would hold a lead in the game, as BC running back Andre Callender scored on a 51-yard screen pass from Ryan three minutes later. By halftime, the BC lead had swelled to 38-10.

“From what I saw today, [Ryan] made minimal mistakes, if any,” said cornerback and defensive captain Antonio Smith. “We should’ve had more pressure on him, I believe. He got the ball where it needed to be, and I think he did a pretty good job of controlling his offense.”

While Ryan was unrattled and on his game, BG quarterback Tyler Sheehan (27-of-43, 275 yards, one TD) looked as though he was trying to do too much, throwing a career-high five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns.

Three of the five interceptions went to free safety Jamie Silva.

“I just made some horrible mistakes and bad throws, so I’m just going to take it and learn from it,” Sheehan said.

There were a small number of positive aspects offensively for the Falcons. Corey Partridge and Freddie Barnes had 100 and 112 yards receiving, respectively. Barnes also hauled in two touchdown passes.

After Sheehan threw his fifth interception, backup Anthony Glaud came in and threw for 126 yards and a score, and continued to show he is capable of stepping in and running the offense.

On defense, the Falcons had no answers for anything BC did. The Eagles were able to get significant yardage through the air with Ryan and on the ground with Callender.

The big play burned the Falcons twice, the first time on the screen play to Callender and the other on a 71-yard TD pass to wideout Justin Jarvis in the third quarter.

While Ryan always seemed to have an answer for BG’s defense, Smith said the unit knew what to expect from one of the most efficient offenses in the country, based on film study throughout the week.

“They were executing what they were doing,” Smith said. “I didn’t see anything new.”

The defense was unable to get pressure on Ryan in any part of the game and didn’t force any turnovers for the first time all season. They also had no quarterback hurries.

Defensive back P.J. Mahone led the team with 10 tackles and was the only player with double-digit tackles, another 2007 first.

“We really didn’t give ourselves a chance,” head coach Gregg Brandon said. “I think Tyler tried to do some things today that were uncharacteristic. I think it was a spotlight that he was real fired up to be in, and I think he forced some things today that created those turnovers.”

Despite the loss, there are still seven Mid-American Conference games left for the Falcons, including a road game against Miami (Ohio) next week.

Both Brandon and Sheehan stressed the need to put the game behind them and look onward toward the rest of the schedule.

“I have to have a very short memory and I think the team does as well,” Sheehan said. “I mean, we’re going into MAC play and that’s what we’ve been striving for the whole time, so we just need to have a short memory and get ready for Miami.”