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Boston College 24, Northern Illinois 27 (OT): Eagles storm back but fall in overtime

CHESTNUT HILL, MA. - The promise of a successful season still exists for Boston College. But it hardly feels realistic after a hideous loss to Northern Illinois, 27-24 in overtime Saturday before 30,122 at Alumni Stadium.

The Eagles nearly won one of the most improbable games in their history, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the last eight minutes. Liam Connor’s 39-yard field goal in overtime gave BC a brief lead, but their defense wilted. Rocky Lombardi’s one-yard rush won it for the Huskies.

The Eagles may have discovered a new quarterback, Central Florida transfer Thomas Castellanos. Presumptive starter Emmett Morehead played the first two series before Castellanos played the first of the first half and most of the second.

BC trailed 14-0 in the third period until Castellanos hit Lewis Bond with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 4:58 left. The drive began at the NIU 25 after Khris Banks picked up quarterback Rocky Lombardi’s fumble, finally awakening the stadium.

The Eagles trailed 14-7 into the fourth period and had a chance to regain possession until NIU converted a fourth-and-6 in BC territory. BC’s most experienced cornerback, Elijah Jones, was whistled for pass interference, keeping the drive alive. NIU scored later when Brock Lampe scored on a one-yard run with 7:04 left.

Castellanos’ two-yard TD run with 5:59 made it 21-14. The drive nearly stalled but Castellanos scrambled on fourth-and-5, retreating more than 20 yards, before finding Bond for the first down.

BC had a chance to get off the field on defense down seven with six minutes left. But Donovan Ezeiruaku (roughing the passer) and Jalen Cheek (pass interference) were both flagged on successive third downs. Though, BC finally stopped NIU with 3:29 left and got possession with no timeouts on its 17. Castellanos appeared to throw an interception on the second play, but replay overturned the call. Four plays later, Castellanos hit Jaden Williams with a 30-yard TD pass to tie it and eventually force overtime.

NIU led 7-0 at halftime and made it 14-0 quite easily, receiving the second-half kickoff and marching 75 yards in 10 plays. Antario Brown’s two-yard run capped off the drive.

It was an eventful, if disappointing, first half for BC. Morehead, the starter, played two series and authored two first downs before being yanked for Castellanos. Castellanos gained 29 yards on his first play from scrimmage, a run down the sideline. But once BC made NIU territory, offensive guard Kyle Hergel was called for unnecessary roughness, stalling the drive.

The Eagles managed to reach NIU territory only twice in the first half. They were called for four penalties (to one for NIU) and were plagued by a number of drops as well. NIU converted a third down late in the first half, a 32-yard completion from quarterback (and Michigan State transfer) Rocky Lombardi to Chris Carter. The Huskies scored three plays later when Justin Lynch took a direct snap and hit Brown with a seven-yard TD touchdown pass.

BC looks ahead to Week 2 against Holy Cross.

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