Boston College holds on against Northern Illinois
Senior kicker Christian Hagan missed a 39-yard field goal with 21 seconds left, allowing visiting Boston College to hold on for a 23-20 non-conference victory over Northern Illinois in the opener for both teams Friday night.
Colton Lichtenberg, who lost his kicking job in last year’s opening game, kicked his third field goal of the game, a 37-yarder with 2:13 left to give visiting BC the lead. But quarterback Ryan Graham took his team down the field and the Huskies elected to be conservative and set up the tying field goal.
Under pressure from the edge, Hagan, who had already kicked field goals of 32 and 21 yards, didn’t follow through and his kick, which may have been tipped, hit the crossbar.
BC, making the ACC’s first visit to DeKalb in 14 years, couldn’t hold a 20-10 lead but marched to the winning score by converting a pair of fourth-down plays. Lichtenberg, who lost his job by missing two field goals in last year’s opening loss to Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland, also hit from 42 and 35 yards out.
Both teams started quarterbacks who were named the starter on the day of the game. Both threw for two touchdowns and an interception.
BC redshirt freshman Anthony Brown was 26 of 42 for 191 yards, while Graham was 15 of 38 for 190 — and also ran for 99 yards — including a 60-yarder in the second quarter.
Michael Walker had a career-high eight catches and redshirt freshman Kobay White grabbed six for BC, while Chad Beebe had six catches in the loss.
Kyle Pugh was the game’s top defensive player, making 15 stops for NIU, while BC All-America Harold Landry, held in check most of the night, was a factor down the stretch.
Even though it was a cool night, leg cramps were significant — especially for the home team, which lost star cornerback Shawun Lurry in the first half.
NIU defensive line coach Brett Diersen reportedly suffered a broken leg at the end of a third-quarter play on the sideline. He was carted off.
BC, picked to finish last in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, plays its home and conference opener next week against Wake Forest. Northern Illinois, tabbed by the MAC coaches to finish third in the league’s Western Division, hosts FCS foe Eastern Illinois.