CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- There was a scene at Boston College on Saturday afternoon that hadn’t been seen in quite some time.
No, we’re not talking about Andre Williams and his record-shattering 42-carry, 339-yard, two-touchdown performance. That’s never been seen before.
We’re talking about what happened after the final horn sounded in BC’s 38-21 victory over NC State, clinching bowl eligibility for the Eagles for the first time since 2010 and tripling the win total from all of 2012 with two games yet to play in 2013.
The fans -- those remaining in the stands, anyway, as some left early -- flooded onto the field as the Eagles gathered in front of the band in the south end zone to sing the alma mater. The maroon-and-gold-clad masses celebrated shoulder-to-(oversized)-shoulder with their Eagles, a team that now must be at least close to fully redeemed in fans’ eyes after the disasters that were 2011 and 2012.
“To have our students wrap themselves around our team, I thought it was a special moment for our seniors and for really anybody that’s involved [with the program],” first-year BC coach Steve Addazio said. “I’ve been around some really great football moments in my career, but I would have to say that was without question one of the great football moments in my career.”
“There’s not too many times in life when you know it’s going to be your last chance, and today was one of those times that you knew that: This is it, you’ll never have this time back,” said Pierre-Louis, who led the BC defense with two key sacks. “It’s how you’re gonna remember it. I’m just glad that we came together and we’re going to remember this day for the rest of our lives.”
Pierre-Louis said the moment on the field with the fans after the game actually reminded him of a picture he’d seen in one of the BC administrators’ offices.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I wish we had a picture like that,’” he said. “I remember having all the student body come around us after today’s win and I look up at the JumboTron and see the exact same picture. It was just magical.”
Rettig said he thought the team did a good job of harnessing the emotions of the day.
“Obviously after the game, embracing the student body, we were able to let it all out,” he said. “We’re gonna go celebrate and have a good time tonight and then we’ve just gotta get back tomorrow and attack [win] No. 7 harder than we did No. 6.”
And while Addazio made a point of telling his team to enjoy the moment, one it’s fought long and hard for and that it’ll never have again, the coach -- like his quarterback -- couldn’t help himself. He’s looking ahead already to next Saturday and the game against Maryland.
“While we may have achieved some of our goals that we set out in the beginning -- win the opener and get bowl-eligible -- there’s really a lot left right now,” Addazio said. “We’ve got two games left to play. We’re playing our best football. And we need to enjoy that great feeling that we get to celebrate with your teammates and your university. ... That should fuel and inspire and motivate to go out and achieve more.”
Freese ices it
With five points in the first half -- a field goal and two extra points -- Nate Freese became BC’s all-time leading scorer.
The place-kicker and punter came into the game needing three points to tie Steve Aponavicius’ school record of 290 points. He tied the mark with a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter, and passed the mark with an extra point after Williams’ 17-yard TD later in the quarter.
Aponavicius congratulated Freese on Twitter during the game:
— Steve Aponavicius (@saponavicius) November 16, 2013
Freese finished with 12 points on the day, for a total of 299.
“I kinda put [the record] in the back seat, it was more important that we got No. 6,” Freese said. “I wasn’t really thinking about that much.”
The senior from Strongsville, Ohio, is one of two kickers in the country with a perfect record on field goals this season. He is 14-for-14 after Saturday.
“He’s a low-, low-maintenance guy,” Addazio said of Freese. “He just goes out and does his job at a high level and he represents everything that this university wants. So I’m really proud of Nate. He’s been an unbelievable weapon for us all year long.”
Before their final game at Alumni, 18 Eagles seniors -- including 14 starters -- were honored: Alex Amidon, Ted Davenport, Steele Divitto, Edebali, Freese, Connor Galligan, Mike Marscovetra, Mike Naples, C.J. Parsons, Matt Patchan, Pierre-Louis, Kaleb Ramsey, Rettig, Jaryd Rudolph, Jake Sinkovec, Ian White, Williams and Zach Wolfe.
Addazio and athletic director Brad Bates stood near the 35-yard line to shake hands and say a few words to each Eagle. The players were given a flower to hand to their parents, and each player received a framed maroon BC jersey with his number on it.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.