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Va Tech's late charge comes up short against BC

Ryan Willis competed 29 of 47 passes for 344 yards with four TDs, but also was picked off three times in the Hokies 35-28 loss.
Credit: AP
Virginia Tech wide receiver Tayvion Robinson, left, scores against Boston College defensive back Mike Palmer, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON — No cupcakes, no local rivals to open this season. Boston College jumped right into it with a victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Anthony Brown threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the Eagles to a 35-28 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday in the schools' opener.

AJ Dillon and David Bailey each had a scoring run for BC, which posted a win over the Hokies for the second straight year. Kobay White (17 yards) and true freshman Zay Flowers (33-yarder) each had a TD catch.

"Winning the opener is extremely important. It validates your offseason work and it gives you positive momentum. But winning your opener against a highly-quality football team, I think you get better from that," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "You can go out, win an opener against a team that maybe you're stronger than, but I don't think that it sometimes helps you because two weeks in, three weeks in you can get shocked at the speed of the game."

Eagles defensive back Brandon Sebastian knew the importance of the victory. "It means a lot, especially to the whole team," he said. "They're a tough ACC opponent every year."

Brown was 15 of 26 for 275 yards and didn't throw an interception. Dillon was held to 81 yards on 23 carries, but sealed it with an 11-yard run on a third-and-9 with just over 2 minutes left. "Today we started off great, started off fast," Brown said.

Ryan Willis competed 29 of 47 passes for 344 yards with four TDs, but also was picked off three times for Virginia Tech, which finished last season with a losing record for the first time since 1992. "It's tough for our guys to battle back, fight, scratch and claw all the way through and come up short," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. "Lord knows we made plenty of mistakes out there today."

Willis, who won the job in preseason camp, knows he's got to be better. "I need to take care of the ball better," he said. "There's a couple reads I can make better."

Clinging to a one possession lead, the Eagles marched 56 yards in 10 plays with Bailey capping it with a 1-yard TD to make it 35-21. But the Hokies cut it to 35-28 when Willis hit Kaleb Smith with an 11-yard score with 2:13 to play. It was tied 14-all before BC capitalized on a pair of turnovers, scoring two TDs in the final 6:02 of the first half.

Cornerback Tate Haynes forced Willis' fumble on a blitz and defensive end Marcus Valdez recovered at Virginia Tech's 17. Two plays later, Brown lofted a TD pass to White, who made an acrobatic catch along the left sideline for a score.

With just under 2 ½ minutes left in the half, Hezekiah Grimsley fumbled a punt that was recovered by BC's Nolan Borgersen at the Hokies' 28. Brown took off through the left side on an option play and went untouched for a score. Willis hit tight end James Mitchell on slant pattern for a score, slicing it to 28-21 late in the third quarter.