BC Extends Bowl Streak

Matt Ryan's final game at Boston College made coach Jeff Jagodzinski's first season one of the best in school history.

Ryan threw three touchdown passes, two to Rich Gunnell, and the Eagles extended the nation's longest bowl winning streak to eight with a 24-21 victory over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Friday.

Boston College (11-3) won 11 games for the first time since 1940.

``It was big to get to 11 wins,'' Jagodzinski said. ``To get to double-digit wins is hard to do in any league. These guys bought into what I was talking about and they did everything I asked them to do to get to that point.''

It was a great start for coach Jag, but after an 8-0 start the season had potential to be even better.

The Eagles were ranked No. 2 in the country after rallying to beat Virginia Tech in late October. But they ended the regular season losing three of five, including a rematch with the Hokies in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game in Jacksonville, and ended up in the Champs Sports Bowl.

With 17 fifth-year seniors playing their final game, motivation came easy. Not surprising, two seniors led the way.

Ryan completed 22 of 47 passes for 249 yards. All-America safety Jamie Silva had two interceptions, including one in the end zone, and was the game's most valuable player.

``We wanted to take some chances deep against their corners,'' Ryan said. ``They were bringing pressure all night and had a bunch of guys up in the box, so we wanted to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage. We felt it was a good matchup for us.''

The Eagles sealed the win with their fourth interception of the game. Paul Anderson picked off Brian Hoyer's pass and returned it to the Michigan State 29 with 2:29 remaining.

``You go into a season hoping never to lose,'' Silva said. ``We did start out 8-0, which was great, but then we went on a little bad streak. No one wanted to do that. But this shows a little bit about our team, coming back and winning this game.''

Hoyer finished with five turnovers - four interceptions and a fumble - for the Spartans (7-6).

``Obviously I'm disappointed in myself,'' Hoyer said. ``It's kind of a bad day to go out there and have the worst game of your career. ... Definitely there were things I could have done differently to affect the outcome of this game.''

Michigan State, in its first bowl in four years, played without four academically ineligible players, including defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic, one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten. Also ineligible were offensive lineman Abre Leggins, punt returner Terry Love and receiver-cornerback T.J. Williams.

Coach Mark Dantonio also suspended senior linebacker SirDarean Adams for violating an unspecified team rule.

The Spartans, whose six losses were by a combined 31 points, refused to make excuses.

Not Dantonio. Not Hoyer.

``We're not going to second-guess anything that happens out there in terms of what if and if he hadn't and should he have,'' Dantonio said. ``He's in control out there and I believe in him totally and he's our quarterback.''

It was also a tough day for freshman defensive back Chris Rucker, who was playing for the first time since having three medical procedures in the last two months to correct a detached retina and gave up both of Gunnell's long TD catches (29 and 68 yards).

Despite Hoyer's struggles, he made it close down the stretch - thanks mostly to Ryan's fumble.

Leading 24-13 in the fourth, Ryan fumbled as he was sacked by Greg Jones. Oren Wilson recovered at the Boston College 37.

Hoyer, whose first four turnovers helped stake BC to an 11-point lead, connected with Devin Thomas for a 23-yard gain. Then he rolled right, released the ball just before he stepped out of bounds and found Deon Curry open in the back of the end zone.

Hoyer hooked up with Kellen Davis for the 2-point conversion that made it 24-21 with 6:04 remaining.

The Spartans got the ball back twice in the closing minutes, but couldn't pick up a first down. A few minutes later, BC's seniors celebrated their 39th win in the last four years.

``Leaving as the winningest class in BC history is something special and something we'll take for a while,'' Silva said.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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