Boston College running back Andre Williams has proven time and again this season that he’s a weapon with the ball in his hands.
And on the second play from scrimmage Saturday at North Carolina, Boston College went to its best offensive option. Quarterback Chase Rettig handed the ball off to Williams, something he’s done more than 150 times so far this season.
But this time, the ball didn’t stay in Williams’ hands long, bouncing out before he ever really had it and ending up in the hands of the Tar Heels.
In the literary world, that’s called foreshadowing. In the football world, it’s called losing the turnover battle.
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner quickly capitalized on the miscue, which came at the BC 35, throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer four plays later to take an early lead. And though Williams would at least partly redeem himself with a 56-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter to retake the lead, that play would be the high-water mark for the Eagles in a 34-10 loss.
The Eagles said all week that they understood they needed to play mistake-free football to win on the road. They just didn’t execute on Saturday.
BC didn’t turn the ball over again after the early fumble, but it had five penalties for 42 yards, gave up four sacks of Rettig and struggled to move the chains against what had been a subpar UNC defense to date.
The Tar Heels had given up more than 455 yards of offense per game entering the weekend. The Eagles finished with 261 yards of total offense Saturday, going just 5-for-16 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down.
Steve Addazio summed it up succinctly when he spoke to reporters after the game, the team Twitter account relaying the coach’s message:
. @BCCoachAddazio: It wasn't lack of effort. We played hard, we just didn't play well.
— BC Football News (@BCFootballNews) October 26, 2013
The loss drops the Eagles to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. They’ll try to get back to .500 with a win over No. 14 Virginia Tech on Saturday at Alumni Stadium (12 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN2).
The Hokies (6-2, 3-1 ACC) will be especially motivated to get a win on Nov. 2, coming off a surprising 13-10 home loss to Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC).
Though he’d likely trade it for a team win, Williams achieved a career goal in the loss Saturday by piling up 172 yards. It was the senior’s fifth 100-yard game of 2013 and put him over 1,000 yards for the season (he’s at 1,010). Williams is the first BC back to top the 1,000-yard mark since 2010, when Montel Harris had 1,242 yards as a junior. ... Kasim Edebali’s sack on the first play from scrimmage in the second half pushed his total to 4.5 on the season, a team and career high. The fifth-year senior co-captain, a Hamburg, Germany, native, now has more sacks than any Eagles defender since B.J. Raji had 7.5 as a senior in 2008.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.