Nov. 4, 2007
BOSTON (AP) – There goes another No. 2.
Geno Hayes returned Matt Ryan’s third interception for a 38-yard touchdown with 1:10 to play on Saturday night to help Florida State beat second-ranked Boston College 27-17, ending the Eagles’ run at an unbeaten season and shaking up the BCS standings yet again.
With the loss by BC (8-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), only Ohio State, Kansas and Hawaii remain unbeaten. A handful of one-loss teams – LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma among them – had their hopes for reaching the Bowl Championship Series title game aided by Florida State. LSU will probably take second-place behind Ohio State in the BCS standings when they come out Sunday.
“This does not deter us from what we want to do,” BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said, “and that’s win the ACC championship.”
The No. 2 team in The Associated Press Top 25 lost three consecutive weeks before Boston College took over the second spot on Oct. 21 and held on with a comeback victory over Virginia Tech last week. Southern California, California and South Florida were the others to lose as No. 2.
Drew Weatherford completed 29-of-45 passes for 354 yards for Florida State (6-3, 3-3), hitting Preston Parker nine times for 93 yards and a touchdown and De’Cody Fagg on six catches for 111 yards and a TD.
Ryan finished 25-for-53 for two touchdowns and 415 yards – his fourth career 400-yard game, tying Doug Flutie for the most in school history.
But his interceptions were costly.
“One of the things you can’t do, I don’t care what level you’re on, you can’t turn the ball over,” Jagodzinski said. “We had four.”
Ryan was picked off once in the first quarter inside the Seminoles 10. He also threw an interception early in the third that allowed Florida State to move into position for a 40-yard field goal that made it 10-0.
It was the second consecutive game BC trailed 10-0 before mounting a rally: The Eagles spotted Virginia Tech a two-score lead on Oct. 25 before Ryan threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:11 to vault himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation.
This time, he had more than 20 minutes to work with.
“You can never count out Matt Ryan and BC,” Weatherford said. “I was nervous the whole time. He’s a great player, he’s led his team back before and I knew he could do it again. I was nervous until the final play.”
Ryan led BC on a four-play, 70-yard drive over 63 seconds, hitting Ryan Purvis for 26 yards to the Florida State 30, and then Brandon Robinson for the touchdown. The teams traded field goals, then Weatherford hit Fagg on a 42-yard touchdown pass to give the Seminoles a 20-10 lead.
Ryan hit Rich Gunnell on a 42-yard pass to the Florida State 6 with 7:24 left. Two plays later, including a penalty that moved the ball to the 3, Ryan hit a wide-open Purvis in the middle of the end zone to make it 20-17.
BC forced a punt and got the ball back at its own 7 with 3:30 left and a chance to take the lead.
“I was excited,” Ryan said. “As soon as they stopped them, and forced the punt, they gave us another chance to go out there and win the game.”
Ryan moved the Eagles out to the 33 before Hayes ripped the ball free from Purvis on a pass across the middle and went easily into the end zone.
“This is the fourth game that we’ve been ahead at the half and we’ve lost two of them,” Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. “I thought we were going to make enough mistakes to lose it at the end.”
The game began in a frigid and soaking downpour, with wind gusts forecast at up to 50 mph as the remnants of Hurricane Noel proceeded up the East Coast. The rain had stopped by the end of the first quarter, but the winds battered the U.S. flag and played havoc with a couple of second-quarter field goal attempts.
“Everybody believed, until the very end, that we could pull it out at the end, after what Matt did last week,” BC linebacker Mark Herzlich said. “Hayes made a great play and sealed the deal.”
Robinson caught seven passes for 163 yards for BC, fighting off a grabby defender to make a beautiful diving catch for 38 yards to the Seminoles 6 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Eagles, trailing 13-7 at the time moved backward on penalties and managed only a field goal.
Weatherford answered with a two-play, 61-yard drive that took just 41 seconds before Fagg ran 42 yards into the end zone to make it 20-10.