NEWTON, Mass. -- With the deficit at four touchdowns and Boston College in desperate need of a spark, the Eagles found one in a wholly unexpected location.
The offense was struggling to move the ball, without a first down late in the second quarter, when BC head coach Frank Spaziani pulled starting quarterback Chase Rettig and inserted redshirt freshman Josh Bordner. The 6-foot-4, 224-pounder from Sykesville, Md., delivered an immediate jolt.
Bordner faked a handoff to Rolandan Finch, tucked the ball away and rumbled through the Florida State line, bursting into the open field only to stumble and go down after a gain of 25 yards. A few plays later, Bordner converted a fourth-and-1 with a 4-yard scramble. And on his first career passing attempt, Bordner hit Bobby Swigert in stride over the middle for 37 yards to move the Eagles to the Seminoles’ 2-yard line.
The unexpected contributions so delighted Eagles fans -- desperate for a reason to cheer, with the team already down 28-0 -- that when Spaziani reinserted Rettig on the drive the move was met with scattered boos.
“Obviously we had trouble blocking ‘em and we had trouble protecting, couldn’t make a first down. Couldn’t get out of our own way there for a while,” Spaziani said. “Because of our situation with the backs we had put a few things in for Josh. He had been practicing better for the last couple of weeks.”
The situation with the backs was that Montel Harris is out for the season and Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble were out with injuries, leaving only former fourth-string runner “Deuce” Finch to carry the load. And against the stout, talented FSU defensive front, Finch wasn’t finding much room to run.
So Bordner got the call.
“Why not? Get a little spark and try to get something going,” Spaziani said of the move.
“I was prepared,” Bordner said. “I wasn’t expecting as much [work].”
He almost managed to lead the Eagles in rushing with his 45 yards on seven carries, falling just short of Finch’s 59 yards on 28 carries. After piling up 372 yards against Maryland on Saturday, the Eagles managed just 94 on 39 attempts against FSU’s rush defense, which is ranked fourth nationally.
“I mean, of course there’s some nerves,” Bordner admitted after the game, “the first time I went in at quarterback on live television, but after the first play it was just like normal.”
Will Bordner be back to share the snap load with Rettig next week against NC State?
“There’s certain situations where it could be done,” Spaziani said of playing both quarterbacks. “Necessity is the mother of invention, and we needed to have something else because of our situation with our personnel. I don’t foresee two offenses, but we certainly like to have the weapon.”
The streak continues
With the bright lights of the ESPN cameras on him, the nation’s most prolific tackler didn’t disappoint. Luke Kuechly increased his nation-leading streak of games with double-digit tackles to 31, finishing the Florida State contest with 20 stops.
Kuechly entered the game with 130 tackles on the season, 14 more than the next-best total, by Akron’s Brian Wagner. He now needs 53 more tackles to tie the school record for a career (524, Stephen Boyd) and 74 to tie the national record (545 by Northwestern’s Tim McGarigle).
With three games left, the linebacker needs to average 11 per game to tie the school mark and 18 per game to tie the national mark.
After the latest double-digit tackle performance, Kuechly now owns three of BC’s top 10 single-season tackle totals (first -- 183 in 2010; fifth -- 158 in 2009; and eighth -- 150 in 2011).
All by himself
Entering the season, senior punter Ryan Quigley stood fifth in the Eagles’ annals with 210 career punts. With seven punts on Thursday, Quigley now has more punts than any player in BC history with 264, breaking the record of 259 set by Johnny Ayers from 2004 to 2007.
That’s just one of the marks he’s met in 2011. Against Virginia Tech, he had seven punts for 282 yards to surpass the 10,000-yard mark for his career, becoming just the fifth ACC punter to do so.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.