BC's defense disappoints again

NEWTON, Mass. -- Disappointed but not discouraged.

That's the mindset Boston College coach Frank Spaziani has after his team lost a wild, back-and-forth affair with No. 17 Clemson 45-31 on Saturday.

"They certainly deserved to win," the fourth-year head man said of the Tigers. "You score 30-some points ... you gotta do better than that on defense. I think we were lined up right most of the time, but we just weren't able to make some plays.

"We did some good things on both sides of the ball, a couple times, but not enough on defense."

BC struck first, with Andre Williams breaking a couple of arm tackles at the line of scrimmage and rumbling up the right sideline for a 30-yard score with 10:16 to go in the first quarter.

But that was just the start of the seesaw on the scoreboard.

Clemson scored the next 17 points, taking a 17-7 lead. Then Chase Rettig led two scoring drives, ending each with a touchdown pass (a 3-yarder to Johnathan Coleman and a 31-yarder to Alex Amidon), to give BC the lead back at 21-17.

And then back came Clemson, scoring the next 21 points to establish a lead it would not relinquish.

"You can't take anything away from Clemson," linebacker Nick Clancy said. "They're extremely talented, man, they have lots of weapons and they're not afraid to use them. And that's what they did.

"It's just one of those things you wish you could have those plays back."

Those plays included a 58-yard catch by DeAndre Hopkins to rescue the Tigers from a rare third-and-long deep in their own territory, a 35-yard touchdown catch by Hopkins to swing momentum back Clemson's way after a BC score and a 46-yard run by Andre Ellington to put the final drive away and help the visitors run out the clock.

Tajh Boyd finished 28-for-38 for 367 yards and three TDs. The bulk of those numbers came on hookups with Hopkins, who had a monster game with 11 catches for 197 yards and that 35-yard TD. (He had what looked like another TD catch waved off by officials, a call that was upheld by a review.) Ellington carried 25 times for 132 yards and a score.

"Those are very good players and they've done it to a lot of people," Spaziani said. "We just didn't make enough plays. We just weren't able to make plays when we had to."

When asked if Boyd was the best QB the Eagles have faced so far, Clancy said he couldn't say that but "he is very, very talented, and he beat us today."

BC's offense was good, just not good enough to overcome the defense's shortcomings.

The Eagles' junior signal-caller finished 25-for-43 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. More than half of Rettig's yards and touchdowns were to Amidon, who finished with eight catches for 193 yards and two scores.

"It puts a little edge on it when it's back and forth," Rettig said. "It was fun, but we just gotta do better ... and score probably two more touchdowns."

Looking for the silver lining, the Eagles were asked if they can take any solace from the fact the teams they've lost to are a combined 13-2 so far this season.

"I mean you have to take solace from it, but we're 1-3," Rettig said. "At the end of the day, those are the numbers."

Spaziani agreed, to an extent.

"I guess you can take some [solace]," he said. "They're good football teams."

But the coach also doesn't want his team to have a false sense of security, saying, "It's dangerous to think like that. They're good football teams but we still got beat."

BC has to know what it is right now, and that is a team which has made undeniable strides on offense but is still trying to put together a complete effort.

"You know we just gotta keep working," Rettig said. "Those are the situations we're gonna be in a lot this year, I feel like. So you've just gotta go in with that mindset in practice and make it happen on the field."

Until the Eagles can get both offense and defense clicking at the same time, chances are they'll continue to leave their fans disappointed, if not outright discouraged.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.