Boston Faculty stuns SMU in Fenway Bowl to finish the season on a excessive be aware

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BC’s Thomas Castellanos celebrated one among his fourth-quarter touchdowns with teammate Drew Kendall within the shadow of Fenway Park’s outfield wall.

The bleaker the chances, and the bleaker the circumstances, the extra Thomas Castellanos stomachs the circumstances and leans on his unteachable survival instincts.

Boston Faculty entered Thursday’s Fenway Bowl as an 11-point underdog, towards an 11-win Southern Methodist crew ranked seventeenth, however Castellanos remained steadfast in his pursuit of systematically wrecking a defensive sport plan.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback wreaked havoc within the rain, racking up practically 300 whole yards and powering plucky BC to a 23-14 triumph. The Eagles (7-6) additionally dominated defensively, discovering firepower late and blanking a dynamic SMU offense within the second half.

“To finish the season like that with a bowl win, over a ranked crew, when actually no person gave us an opportunity, let’s be sincere, it was particular,” BC coach Jeff Hafley mentioned. “It is going to construct momentum.”

BC turned to its relentless offensive line and acquired contributions from throughout to cement one of the vital vital victories of the Hafley period. It was the Eagles’ first bowl win since 2016, whereas the Mustangs (11-3) are nonetheless looking for their first since 2012.

When the ultimate seconds ticked off, BC gamers stormed the sphere and slid headfirst on the soggy Fenway Park grass. They have been already drenched, and a celebratory slip-and-slide wouldn’t harm.

Hafley inspired them to embrace the weather, channel their interior children, and deal with it like a yard soccer sport within the mud, and that’s precisely what they did. He informed the crew midweek that he was sick of shedding after three straight setbacks and decided to finish the 12 months with a signature triumph.

“It simply eats at you, in the event you’re an actual competitor,” Hafley mentioned. “It simply doesn’t go away. You get up in the course of the evening, and also you’re nonetheless pissed off, excuse my language. Now we don’t have that. I’ve by no means been round a locker room happier.”

Earlier than BC seized command late, the sport was tightly contested. SMU moved downfield with relative ease on the opening drive, however Eagles defensive finish Donovan Ezeiruaku ripped the ball out of quarterback Kevin Jennings’s arms and Neto Okpala recovered the fumble.

Castellanos helped arrange a 45-yard Liam Connor subject purpose to place BC in entrance, 3-0, with 6:21 left within the first. The Eagles established their typical downhill floor sport early and leaned on Castellanos and his trademark elusiveness.

Edwin Kolenge blocked a punt following a Mustangs three-and-out, however the Eagles couldn’t capitalize as Connor missed a 45-yard try. 5 first-quarter penalties by SMU helped BC take that 3-point lead into the second quarter.

SMU responded, changing on third and 17 and fourth and 4 to pave the way in which for a 1-yard landing plunge from LJ Johnson Jr. with 9:14 left within the half. It felt like a matter of time earlier than a dynamic offense that entered averaging 40-plus factors per sport would uncover a approach to exploit BC’s often-porous secondary.

The Eagles answered, although, as offensive MVP Castellanos continued to wiggle via tiny crevices and preserve the SMU protection guessing. Hafley mentioned he ate dinner with the QBs the evening earlier than and informed Castellanos to arrange for 30-plus carries, rain or shine.

Castellanos grew to become simply the fifth Atlantic Coast Convention quarterback since 1996 to eclipse 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 dashing yards in a season. He completed a breakout 12 months with 3,360 whole yards, the third-most in program historical past behind Matt Ryan in 2007 and Doug Flutie in 1984.

“He did what he’s good at,” SMU coach Rhett Lashlee mentioned. “We knew it was going to be a problem, and it was a problem.”

Kye Robichaux (12 carries, 87 yards, TD) punctuated the drive with a 6-yard rating up the center to place BC again in entrance, 10-7, with 3:07 left within the half. The Eagles wanted yet another cease to protect momentum however couldn’t safe it. Jennings hit a wide-open Jaylan Knighton for a 1-yard rating with eight seconds left and celebrated accordingly by hitting an imaginary baseball.

Each groups needed to modify to a slippery subject, and the primary half featured 4 fumbles and eight penalties. The Eagles managed to dictate a lot of the motion regardless of registering simply 6 passing yards.

The distinction was that SMU completed 5 of 8 on third down and had 88 yards after the catch. Even so, the Eagles have been effectively inside hanging distance, trailing, 14-10.

Early within the second half, Castellanos threw the ball straight into linebacker Alex Kilgore’s arms for an interception. Late within the quarter, BC freshman KP Value swooped in and blocked a subject purpose try.

Following a scoreless third quarter, Castellanos took benefit of a string of SMU miscues, discovering freshman Jaedn Skeete for 8- and 32-yard completions earlier than swerving into the tip zone from 15 yards out. BC surged again in entrance, 17-14, with a convincing eight-play, 72-yard drive.

John Pupel broke up a cross on fourth and three, Robichaux broke free for a 40-yard acquire, and Castellanos went airborne to seal a 14-yard rating with 9:48 left.

The Eagles got here up with one last cease, and Castellanos and Robichaux took care of the remainder in convincing vogue to ship the seniors out in model and solidify this system’s first seven-win season since 2018.

“Kudos to them,” mentioned linebacker Kam Arnold, the defensive MVP. “They’ve constructed this program up, and now it’s our job to maintain constructing off this and use it as momentum.”

As he sat on the podium, with a silver slugger bat by his aspect, Castellanos vowed that that is only the start. For a crew that returns the majority of its core, and has discovered its id, the long run is the brightest it’s been in a while.

“You guys will see,” Castellanos mentioned. “Subsequent 12 months might be particular. Boston Faculty soccer might be totally different. It will likely be.”