CHESTNUT HILL -- Mark Herzlich's brow was drenched on Saturday afternoon after Boston College's annual spring game.
Missing last season after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma, he finally returned to the team this spring but sat out Saturday's scrimmage because he's mostly been limited to conditioning drills.
The cancer-free linebacker still got his workout as hoards of well wishers sought autographs and pictures in a sun-splashed Alumni Stadium.
When the crowd finally thinned, Herzlich recalled his first Jay McGillis Spring Game in 2007 after he played 13 games as a true freshman at middle linebacker.
"I started playing the WILL [linebacker] the spring of my freshman year," Herzlich said, "so I was getting used to a new position, getting used to playing with the guys on the field.
"Feeling more confident in there can help a lot."
The offense prevailed (42-41) in a scoring system that awarded defense and offensive plays on Saturday but more importantly a handful of inexperienced players learned what it's like to make big plays on Saturday afternoon in Alumni Stadium.
"It lets them know that in a game situation they can actually do it," Herzlich said. "Coming out here and making plays in a game situation is pretty big."
Perhaps nobody made more big plays than on Saturday than senior defensive end Ifeanyi Momah, especially considering he's a converted wide receiver. Momah had two sacks, including a strip sack in the third quarter that tied the game at 26 points apiece.
"I feel more comfortable after going through those practices," Momah said. "The coaches coached me up the right way and I just applied it to the field."
Sophomore defensive back A.J. Currelley also played well on the defensive side of the ball with two interceptions.
"Last year I wasn't even sure if I could be on the team, this year I'm on the field," the walk-on said. "It just makes me feel comfortable. I know this is where I'm supposed to be."
Offensively, sophomore quarterback Mike Marscovetra led the way in the big-play department, including a 44-yard bomb to senior Ryan Lindsey (3 receptions for 81 yards). The diving catch down between the hashes set up the only touchdown of the afternoon: a 15-yard pass to senior tight end Jordan McMichael.
"When you throw it in practice you get fired up, obviously, but when you're out here and you're really playing in a game and there are fans in the stands it feels great and you just go crazy," Marscoveta said.
"If you can hit a few big plays it's always going to make you confident. You get more into the game."
Marscovetra finished 13-for-16 passing with 149 yards but isn't exactly eclipsing sophomore Dave Shinskie (6-of-12 passing for 50 yards) on the depth chart anytime soon.
His coaches said there's a long way to go before the Sept. 4 season opener against Weber State.
Both freshman quarterbacks also got solid looks with Joshua Bordner going 7-for-12 passing for 83 yards and Chase Rettig going 4-for-12 for 48 yards and two picks.
All those passing yards were a big vote of confidence for the receiving corps, a faction tagged as the team's biggest question mark.
"It's the youth thing," BC head coach Frank Spaziani said. "Just when you start to pigeonhole somebody to do something, somebody comes through. That's why they're young and unpredictable."
BC could remain unpredictable despite the fact they are coming off an eight-win season in which the Eagles went to the final week of the regular season before being eliminated from contention for their third consecutive ACC division championship.
Herzlich's return to full form this August will be a big determining factor in the Eagles' success. The Butkus Award finalist and Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year from two seasons ago hasn't had any contact since his return to the team this spring.
"It was frustrating when I was suiting up for practice because once I'm suiting up I want to go out and get in there," he said after he was finally done signing autographs. "But it was the smart thing to do to sit out [today]. There's no need to risk any injuries right now.
"By August I'll already have been working out with the team all summer and doing all of the drills so it will kind of be just like naturally going into the next year like usual."
Former Boston College center Matt Tennant was the only Eagle taken in this weekend's NFL Draft. Tennant went in the fifth round on Saturday to the New Orleans Saints. "That's great for him, we're happy for our players," Spaziani said. "I'm sure he'll be a great addition to the program there and I'm sure he'll do great." ... At halftime, senior cornerback DeLeon Gause was given the Jay McGillis Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to a deserving defensive player."