The Boston College Eagles rallied for 19 unanswered points in the final 16:02 minutes, but fell just short of staging their biggest upset of this century.
The Eagles (1-2, 0-1) were undone by a school-record 18 penalties, a missed PAT kick and an errant PAT pass in a 31-29 loss to No. 3 ranked Florida State University (3-0, 1-0) before 41,383 on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
The Vegas oddsmakers had BC a 24.5-point underdog at game time.
The record 18th infraction was a 15-yard facemask penalty that gave the Seminoles the first down they needed to run out the clock. The previous record of 17 was set against Tennessee on Nov. 5, 1988. BC plays its first road game next Saturday at Louisville.
“I think we just ran out of time with the facemask penalty got us at the end,” said BC linebacker Kam Arnold. “I think we just ran out of time and we have a really good football team.”
BC sophomore quarterback Thomas Castellanos established himself as one the prominent dual threat ACC signal callers with his effort against the Seminoles.
The transfer from Central Florida completed 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown. He led BC in rushing with 95 yards on 16 carries with a long of 45 and a touchdown. Castellanos became the 22nd FBS quarterback since 1996 to pass for over 300 yards and rush for 95 against a Top 25 opponent.
“He had two touchdowns and he’s a young kid and a sophomore making his second start,” said BC head coach Jeff Hafley. “This is probably the biggest game he’s played in his life and I’m proud of him.
“He stayed composed and he’s a tough kid. He sees down the field and made some big throws and had some big runs and it was a gutty performance. He’s going to be a great player.”
Castellanos’ FSU counterpart, Jordan Travis, a recognizable name on the Heisman Trophy watch list, completed 16 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 38. Travis was on the business end of a many hits and appeared worn down in the fourth quarter.
“We tried to put a lot of pressure on him and we knew when we had the chance, we had to hit him and make him feel it,” said Arnold.
FSU scored on its first two possessions of the second half. The Seminoles opened with a six-play, 74-yard drive to go up 24-10. The chunk play of the drive was a 44-yard hook up from Travis to Johnny Wilson. FSU scored on a 4-yard toss from Travis to tight end Preston Daniel.
On the ensuing possession, Castellanos was picked off by linebacker DJ Lundy on the BC 40. On the first snap, Travis hit Bell for 39 yards. Lundy worked both sides of the street when he scored on a 1-yard dive with 11:20 to play.
“We could have buckled, they could have run away with this game, which they had done,” said Hafley. “This is a team that has totally taken over in the second half against LSU.”
BC regrouped with an uplifting rally after falling behind by 21 points. BC scored two straight touchdowns, the first on a 1-yard touchdown run by Kye Robichaux with 1:02 to play in the third. The defense got on the scoreboard when linebacker Khari Johnson returned an FSU fumble 8 yards for a score that made it 31-22. BC missed the PAT kick and a two-point pass on those touchdowns.
Between the Robichaux and Johnson scorers, BC was stopped on fourth and one from the FSU 5. BC cut the lead to 31-29 on a 95-yard, nine-play drive. Castellanos capped the drive on a seven-yard touchdown with 5:19 to play.
“I told those guys, this is a home game in the second half and had a lot of time on the clock to not give up and keep fighting,” said Castellanos. “I told them to keep fighting and eventually we came back.”