CHESTNUT HILL — There was a little bit of everything in Boston College's 38-20 win over Louisville Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
Whether it was a blocked punt for a touchdown, reviews to overturn a goal-line stand into a scoring run, or just about any type of turnover imaginable, variety was the spice of this Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division clash.
In the end, though, this will be known as the game in which true freshman running back David Bailey introduced himself to the college football world. And as BC coach Steve Addazio predicted afterward, Bailey's performance is just "the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to the Maryland native's potential.
Bailey finished with 112 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. He also had a 32-yard scoring run in the third quarter called back on a holding penalty. Fellow back Ben Glines added 107 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, as the Eagles piled up 272 yards on the ground on 61 attempts.
It was the type of win that BC would have enjoyed with starter AJ Dillon, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Or, as Addazio said, "It was a Boston College win."
It did not hurt that the Eagles had a little extra motivation from the Cardinals, whose freshman wide receiver Chatarius Atwell called the BC defense "slow" earlier in the week. Addazio and several BC players made reference to the slight in the postgame press conferences, and the Eagles defense responded, limiting the Cardinals to 47 yards on 32 carries.
The Cardinals did not fare too much better through the air, as starter Jawon Pass completed just 17-of-31 passes for 170 yards, including an interception right into the arms of BC cornerback Hamp Cheevers in the second quarter.
Overall, it was the best defensive effort by the Eagles since the opening wins over UMass and Holy Cross. Defensive end Zach Allen was basically unblockable, as he made seven tackles, three for loss, and a sack. He also blocked an extra point. Fellow defensive end Wyatt Ray made three sacks, and the Eagles finished with seven as a team.
Heading into a bye week with a massive showdown with Miami after that, the Eagles have to feel good about themselves with a 5-2 overall record and 2-1 mark in the ACC.
"You see their offense, it's really high-powered," Allen said of the Cardinals. "They've got some really great athletes on it. We thought we (had) to try and pressure them as much as possible and get there as fast as possible, because according to them we're slow. So I think we proved that wrong today."
It appeared early like BC would run away with it, as the Eagles scored on their first two possessions with a 26-yard pass from Anthony Brown to Hunter Long, then a 2-yard rush from Glines.
But a Glines fumble deep in BC territory led to a short touchdown run by Malik Cunningham that was initially ruled a turnover on downs. Allen blocked the extra point, but the Cardinals continued their momentum.
Michael Walker muffed a punt, and Louisville capitalized with a 3-yard Hassan Hall touchdown run. The Cardinals then took a 20-14 lead after Pass took it himself on a zone read from 3 yards out.
BC's year of schizophrenic special teams play took a turn for the better though in the second quarter when Nolan Borgersen blocked a punt that Travis Levy recovered in the end zone. BC took the 21-20 lead with 3:42 left in the half and never looked back.
The Eagles added a 38-yard Colton Lichtenberg field goal near the end of the half, and then unleashed a heaping helping of Bailey in the second half.
He carried the ball seven straight times on the Eagles' second possession of the third quarter, and even though it ended on a turnover on downs at the Louisville 5 after he was stuffed for no gain, BC had established its identity and begun to wear the Cardinals down.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Bailey took the ball eight times for 30 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. The 13-play, 93-yard march included a fourth-and-4 conversion on a 20-yard completion from Brown to Levy down to the Louisville 3. Brown completed 16-of-22 passes for 179 yards on the afternoon.
Jeff Smith provided the exclamation point with a 5-yard jet sweep for a touchdown with 3:34 to play.
Still, with all the contributions on both sides of the ball, it was Bailey's that stood out the most, as Addazio said Dillon will likely return for the game against the Hurricanes.
"I regret that we didn't play David a week ago (in the loss to NC State)," Addazio said. "But the game had a different flow to it on the road. It's kind of like the same old story. It's like two years ago, 'Why did you take your time with AJ?' We wanted things to be positive for him, and then all of a sudden he emerged. And I thought that was handled, in hindsight, very well, and I think will prove that this will, too."