QB Crane struggles, but Boston College beats Va. Tech behind stingy defense

BOSTON -- Chris Crane didn't wait until the last 3 minutes of the game, like his award-winning predecessor did. He led Boston College on a comeback before the first half was over.

Crane threw an interception for a touchdown on his first pass of the game as Virginia Tech took an early 10-point lead, then the Eagles scored 21 consecutive points to beat the 17th-ranked Hokies 28-23 on Saturday night.

Crane threw three interceptions -- two of them returned for touchdowns -- and also had a fumble. But he also led the Eagles to a touchdown on a 13-play drive and set up two other TDs with long passes to give BC (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) the win.

"I'll tell you what: he's a winner," coach Jeff Jagodzinski said, noting that Crane is 6-1 in his career as a starter -- most of it since replacing ACC player of the year Matt Ryan. "What's he as a starter right now? He's a winner."

BC beat Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-2) in the regular season last year when Ryan led the Eagles back from a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes. But the Hokies won the rematch in the ACC championship game, beating BC 30-16 to earn the conference's berth in the Orange Bowl.

Ryan went on to the NFL as the No. 3 overall draft pick, by the Atlanta Falcons. But he was watching from the stands on Saturday night when Crane nearly threw the game away -- and then grabbed it back.

One game after throwing for 428 yards to beat North Carolina State, Crane was 16-for-32 for 218 yards. Rich Gunnell returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, Brandon Robinson caught four passes for 97 yards and Ifeanyi Momah caught three for 57 yards and a TD.

Montel Harris ran 15 times for 61 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles, whose fans inexplicably stormed the field after the game.

"With all the mistakes we made, we still won the game," Crane said. "It feels good."

Brett Warren intercepted Crane's first pass of the game and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, and Victor Harris picked off another Crane attempt and ran it 55 yards for a TD. The Hokies also blocked Steve Aponavicius' 39-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.

"We had too many missed opportunities," Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "There were too many chances for us to come back that we didn't take advantage of."

BC came up with some big plays, too.

Gunnell's punt return gave the Eagles a 14-10 lead with 9:08 left in the second quarter, and they never trailed again. And though Crane had his troubles, he connected on a 48-yarder to Robinson to set up one touchdown and a 41-yarder to Momah to set up another.

In all, Boston College scored 21 straight points after falling behind 10-0 on Warren's interception and, after Jeff Smith fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Dustin Keys' 30-yard field goal with 9:31 left in the quarter.

Crane then led BC on a 13-play, 83-yard drive, hitting Clarence Megwa for 14 yards on a third-and-9 to reach the Tech 23.

Harris ran twice from the 11 to score and make it 10-7. The teams traded punts before BC stopped the Hokies again and Gunnell cut through the middle to go 65 yards ant put the Eagles ahead 14-10.

After another Tech three-and-out, Crane hit Momah for 41 yards to the 10, then the two connected again for a 10-yard touchdown play that made it 21-10. Victor Harris' 55-yard interception return cut it to 21-17.

Boston College linebacker Brian Toal, who was redshirted because of a shoulder injury last season so he could come back for a fifth year, left near the end of the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Toal was also used as a goal-line and short-yardage running back.