November 9, 2008

BC wins sixth straight vs. Irish

BOSTON(AP) Notre Dame still has the tradition, the reputation and the trophy case full of national championships that make it college football's most decorated Catholic school.

For the past decade, though, Boston College has dominated the Fighting Irish.

Paul Anderson intercepted Jimmy Clausen twice, running one back 76 yards for a touchdown on Saturday night to lead BC to a 17-0 victory over Notre Dame - the Eagles' sixth straight win over their more illustrious rival and the first shutout ever in the series between the nation's only Catholic schools playing major college football.

"One of the things I asked the guys in this room is `How many of you were recruited by Notre Dame? No hands went up," BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski told reporters. "I said, 'You're not good enough to play for Notre Dame. But you're good enough to play for Boston College."

The victory tied the series between the schools at 9-9 - a tally that was unthinkable only a decade ago, when Notre Dame (5-4) had won eight of 10 matchups and had 11 consensus national championships to one for Boston College (6-3). Notre Dame, which has lost nine straight bowl appearances, has dropped BC, which has won its last eight bowl games, from its schedule after 2010.

And just in time.

Montel Harris carried 23 times for 120 yards for the Eagles, who posted their third shutout of the season to snap a two-game losing streak and qualify for a bowl game for the 10th year in a row. Chris Crane completed just 9-of-22 passes for 79 yards, but the BC defense held Notre Dame to 66 yards rushing while collecting five turnovers to go with a blocked punt.

"You can say every game's the same. But when you play Notre Dame, it's not the same," said BC linebacker Mark Herzlich, who led BC with 10 solo tackles and broke up three passes. "It doesn't matter how they're doing, or what their record is; they're still Notre Dame. They're still America's team. You grew up watching Notre Dame. They've got their own television network. We had to prove we belong with the big boys, and we are one of the big boys."

Clausen, who completed 26-of-46 passes for 226 yards, was picked off four times; one was returned for a score and two others killed drives after Notre Dame ventured deep into BC territory. He was not available for comment after the game as BC security shuffled reporters around the concourse while the Irish players made their way to their bus.

"I talked to him even before the game was over," Irish coach Charlie Weis said. "He's like any quarterback: He tried to make plays that weren't there to be made, and sometimes that can have a detrimental effect."

Steve Aponavicius, the walk-on placekicker who was the feel-good story for BC last season, missed his first field goal attempt but made his second to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead in the first. It stayed that way until Clausen overthrew his receiver over the middle midway through the second and Anderson, who was recruited by Notre Dame but not offered a scholarship, gathered it in and let his blockers clear a path to the end zone.

BC made it 17-0 when Golden Tate fumbled a punt and Brad Newman fell on it at the Irish 48 yard-line. Crane brought BC to the 9 before hitting Brandon Robinson for a touchdown with 10:27 to play in the third quarter.

"(That) was a deflating point in the game," Weis said. "You could feel the air being punched out of a balloon. After that we started forcing the issue, and that led to an inconsistent night across the board."

Ifeanyi Momah blocked a punt and Codi Boek fell on it at the Irish 31 yard-line, but Aponavicius, who missed two field goals in a six-point loss to Clemson last week, missed from 32 yards.

Clausen brought Notre Dame to the BC 24 in the final three minutes before he was picked off by Donnie Fletcher, and the Eagles ran out the clock.



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