Even though the Eagles were winning by three at the time.
“They looked a little they were a little down, and I needed to pick them back up,” BC coach Jeff Hafley said after his team waited out a 2-hour, 13-minute weather delay to beat Holy Cross 31-28 on Saturday. “They had momentum, but we’re winning the game. And they needed to act like it. And they needed to understand: When you go out back there, stop them, and not be passive, and attack.”
Newly promoted starter Thomas Castellanos threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 69 yards more, and Boston College forced a fumble with 70 seconds left to win the lightning-delayed renewal of a century-old rivalry between the Massachusetts Catholic schools.
A week after losing to Northern Illinois in overtime, BC (1-1) struggled with another non-Power Five team. The No. 5 team in FCS, Holy Cross (1-1) came out of the delay and marched to the Eagles 28 before quarterback Matthew Sluka fumbled and linebacker Vinny DePalma recovered, allowing BC to run out the clock.
“You’re a little unsure, just because this doesn’t happen often. Like, what’s going on?” DePalma said. “But I think pretty quickly everyone’s like, ’They’ve got the ball and they’ve got two minutes to win the game. But we’re up. We’re winning. They’ve got to go through us.”
The game was delayed with lightning in the area after BC punted to the Holy Cross 25 with 1:58 left. On the first play back, Sluka broke free on a quarterback draw, gaining 35 with a path to the end zone before he was pushed out of bounds — barely stepping on the sideline.
"The line got me,” he said. “I knew I was right on the edge of it. ... I thought I had a little bit more space than I did.”
It was first down on the BC 28 with 1:10 left when Sluka scrambled to the right and defensive lineman Neto Okpala stripped the ball and DePalma fell on it.
“Our guys proved that they belonged here, proved that they belonged at this level," Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney said. "I think there were a lot of doubters, a lot of people that did not think we belonged here. ... We knew that we did.”
Castellanos drove the Eagles to two long first-half drives and then a couple of quick ones to take a 24-14 halftime lead.
Sluka helped Holy Cross make it a 31-28 game with 7:26 left, and BC ran another five minutes off the clock before punting it away. A personal foul on the kick started the Crusaders at their own 25 when the game was suspended.
SINGING IN THE RAIN
During the delay, a section of purple-clad Crusader fans remained in the stands behind the north end zone, cheering through the rain.
“I think the fans honestly give us that energy when we came back out there,” Sluka said. “Just seeing what BC had to what we had was unbelievable.”
Fans hopped out of the stands and began running 100-yard sprints across the field. A BC fan in a cowboy hat tried to make off with one of the end zone pylons; another was frog-marched off after mooning a police officer.
When play resumed, the Holy Cross section was mostly full but the rest of the stadium was empty.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. That was a nutty situation,” DePalma said. “I think it honestly, it got us a little fired up. We were ready to go. We were like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go definitely win this thing now.’”
Holy Cross: The teams first played in 1896 and played every year but one from 1944-86 — but just once since then. The Crusaders have not beaten BC since 1978. They were looking for their third straight win over an FBS team.
Boston College: A victory preserves the Eagles' hopes of regaining bowl eligibility after going 3-9 last season. But the struggles over the first two weeks over non-Power Five foes bodes ill.
The teams had one possession each in the first quarter, with BC running 14 plays before Holy Cross tied it 7-all on a 15-play drive that ended with Jordan Fuller’s 2-yard TD run on the first play of the second. Boston College then stretched out another 14-play drive that ended on Ryan O’Keefe’s 14-yard scoring run with 7:06 left in the half.
After taking the air out of the ball early, the teams showed they can strike quickly, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal in the final 83 seconds of the second quarter.
Castellanos replaced starter Emmett Morehead after just two series against Northern Illinois and helped BC rally from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit in a 27-24 overtime loss.
BC also went to Robichaux as its primary running back, instead of incumbent Pat Garwo, who ran for more than 1,000 yards two years ago but had an ankle injury on Saturday. Robichaux spent the past two seasons at Western Kentucky.
Holy Cross: Visits Yale on Saturday.
Boston College: Hosts No. 4 Florida State on Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll