Saturday night was an historic one in Fenway Park, but the familiar feel of Boston wasn’t enough for the Eagles to pull off an upset against Notre Dame. BC fell 19-16 to the fourth ranked Fighting-Irish in what was an all around sloppy football game.
Notre Dame came in as the two-touchdown favorite, and had a commanding 19-3 lead at one point in the fourth quarter. The usually flightless Eagle offense found a spark in the cozy downtown venue though, and pulled off two long touchdown drives late in the game. Ultimately, BC had a chance to put together a game winning drive- or would have if they were able to recover an onside kick with about one minute left. The kick fell right into the laps of a Notre Dame returner.
The game itself was an ugly one. BC passed for a mere 84 total yards, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer tossed three interceptions, and ND fumbled another two times. BC was called for roughing the kicker on missed Irish field goal, and that led to seven points for Notre Dame. Eagles’ sophomore wide-out Thadd Smith dropped a beautifully thrown pass that would have been an easy touchdown. The list goes on—mistakes were commonplace the entire night.
BC kept with starting walk-on Freshman QB John Fadule, who had been performing better than Flutie or Smith in recent weeks. Fadule struggled to get anything going through the air all night, though. The lack of a BC passing game allowed the Irish to stack the box, which absolutely suffocated the Eagle’s run game—and the entire offense. It was another classic BC performance for most of the night.
However, Fadule went down with concussion like symptoms in the fourth quarter, and the ND defense was not prepared to deal with the speed of Jeff Smith. Smith sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, but a failed two-point conversion left the Eagles staring at a ten-point deficit with minimal time left.
Two drives later, the tandem of Smith and Fadule led the Eagles on a 9 play, 86-yard touchdown drive. BC nailed the extra point, but needed another possession to try to tie things up or take the lead. With only 54 seconds left to play, BC’s only hope was to recover an onside kick. The kick was never even close though, and the ball slowly dribbled its way into the arms of the nearest ND return man right from the get go.
The game was closer than anyone would have predicted, thanks in large part to the absolutely stellar performance of the Eagles defense that was once again left out to dry. Five turnovers (three in the Red-Zone!), and one TD coming only off of a drive extended by a bonehead roughing the kicker call, showed how dominate this unit really is. ND owns one of the nations best offenses, and they looked lost on the converted field for most of the night.
To go beyond the actual football being played, the Fenway experiment was an undeniable success. The atmosphere at the game was phenomenal, and the pre-game festivities dominated downtown Boston all day long. Fans travelled from far and wide to be a part of this once in a lifetime event, and when it was all said and done no one left with a negative experience regarding the game.
The streets around Fenway Park were packed with alumni, students, and fans of both teams in general. Many people who didn’t even have tickets to the game came to be a part of the atmosphere, and there was a very friendly and positive vibe surrounding the day’s festivities.
The Holy War is always a closely contested game, despite ND football’s dominance in recent years. I wanted nothing more than to play spoiler to what may be a playoff season for the Irish, but alas, things fell short. Such is life for a BC football fan. The next chapter in this rivalry (which now favors ND 14-9) will be written in Chestnut Hill in the fall of 2017. Until then, fans of the Eagles will have to live with a good game, a good atmosphere, but yet another loss.