Eagles' Ryan leads with calm hand under center Print
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Sunday, 18 November 2007 14:34
NCAAF Headline News

 CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -Even as Matt Ryan celebrated Boston College's first berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, he kept his perspective - as usual.
``As you see the clock hit zeros and you know you're going to go to the ACC title game, it's a great feeling,'' Ryan said Saturday night after leading the Eagles to a 20-17 come-from-behind victory over Clemson. ``But at this point, we've got a lot of work to do.''
Ryan wouldn't say whether the Eagles would rather play Virginia or Virginia Tech out of the ACC's Coastal Division at Jacksonville, Fla., in two weeks. Instead, he talked up this week's Miami game at Chestnut Hill, which has no bearing on the ACC race.
``We've got an important game this weekend,'' Ryan said. ``It's the last game at home for a lot of seniors. It's a lot of fun and I think we'll prepare well this week.''
Maybe that's why Ryan's so good when it counts.
Last month, he threw two touchdowns in the final 2:11 to send the Hokies to a 14-10 defeat. This time, Ryan had to go 71 yards with about five minutes left and Boston College (9-2, 5-2) trailing 17-13.
He kept the game-winning drive going with a 12-yard completion to Clarence Megwa on third-and-8. Five plays later, Ryan rolled right and saw Rich Gunnell breaking free behind Clemson's secondary. He lofted a perfect pass that fell softly into Gunnell's hands for the go-ahead TD with 1:46 left.
Ryan stayed calm after Cullen Harper put the Tigers (8-3, 5-3) ahead with 5:28 remaining.
``That's what he's always done,'' Gunnell said, grinning.
``What more can you say?'' Clemson linebacker Cortney Vincent said. ``Matt Ryan made a great play, one more play than we were able to make.''
Seems that's been the case with most opponents Ryan faced this year.
He led Boston College to an 8-0 record and a No. 2 ranking, while becoming a Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Losses to Florida State and Maryland the past two weeks had critics discounting the Eagles' start and Ryan's value.
``Certainly, there are times when you're not going to play your best and the last two weeks we didn't,'' Ryan said. ``But with everything on the line, we knew we had to step up and win and we did that.''
Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski reminded his team at breakfast Saturday that it had been banging its head on the ACC's glass ceiling since it joined the league in 2005.
``It's glass for a reason, because you can break through it,'' Jagodzinski said. ``I told them it was our turn to do that.''
Jagodzinski says he'll go with Ryan and his starters this week for several reasons: Only one other time during the regular season has BC won 10 or more games (the other was 1940 when the Eagles went 11-0 under coach Frank Leahy), and the Eagles haven't beaten Miami since Doug Flutie's last-gasp miracle touchdown pass in 1984.
``I'm not going to put guys at risk, but we do want to win this ballgame,'' Jagodzinski said Sunday.
Clemson, which fell from 15th to 21st in the latest rankings, has bumped against that same ceiling several times in coach Tommy Bowden's nine seasons. A close loss to Boston College has prevented the Tigers from reaching the ACC title game for a second-straight year.
In 2006, Clemson fell at BC 34-33 in overtime. Now, the Tigers' drought has grown to 16 years without an ACC crown, the last two years because of Ryan's heroics.
``If you give him one down and take even one play off, he can hurt you,'' Bowden said. ``You can sack him, but he's going to bounce back.''
Ryan has bounced back a lot this season.
 

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