Defense Leads Boston College over Miami
Nov. 25, 2011
MIAMI (AP) - Luke Kuechly ran an interception back for a touchdown and became Boston College's all-time tackles leader, and the Eagles picked Jacory Harris off four times in his final college game en route to beating Miami 24-17 on Friday.
For Miami, the biggest news wasn't the outcome in the season finale for both teams. It announced during the fourth quarter that coach Al Golden has agreed to a four-year extension through Feb. 1, 2020.
Chase Rettig threw two touchdown passes to Chris Pantale for Boston College (4-8, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference). Kuechly also topped his single-season ACC record for tackles, passing the mark of 183 he set last year.
Lamar Miller had a 79-yard touchdown run for Miami (6-6, 3-5), the longest carry by a Hurricane since 2000.
Kuechly is widely considered to be a first-round lock if he decides to leave school early for the NFL draft, and he added to his impressive resume Friday.
He became Boston College's all-time tackle leader in the first half with the 525th stop of his career. Kuechly's 45-yard interception return with 14:48 remaining - he read Harris perfectly, jumping in front of the pass and sprinting down the right sideline to the end zone - essentially wrapped up the win for the Eagles.
Harris had thrown five interceptions all season entering the day. He matched a career-worst with the four on Friday, hardly the way the Miami Northwestern product wanted to see his career end.
Miami's day was tinged with emotion, with a few players tearing up on the pregame "Hurricane Walk" through the crowd. JoJo Nicholas, whose son died shortly after being prematurely born earlier this season, walked particularly slowly to soak the scene in, while receiver Tommy Streeter shook hands with two well-wishers and tousled one boy's hair.
Linebacker Sean Spence and Harris were the last two seniors to be introduced in a pregame ceremony, and once the game started the tributes continued. Harris found classmate Travis Benjamin for a 60-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage, and that drive ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass to LaRon Byrd, another senior who got into the end zone for the first time this season.
Pantale caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Rettig on the ensuing Boston College drive, tying the score. Less than a minute later, Miller waited for a hole to open on the right side of the line, bounced through and sprinted free on a 79-yard touchdown run - Miami's longest play of the year and the longest carry by a Hurricane since Clinton Portis' 82-yard scamper against McNeese State on Aug. 31, 2000.
Eventually, the defenses settled down.
Kuechly was credited with his second tackle early in the second quarter, his 184th stop of the season - one more than the ACC single-season record he established in 2010, and one more than what had been the Boston College all-time record of 524 by Stephen Boyd from 1991-94.
Pantale put the Eagles on top for good with a 32-yard touchdown catch with 12:08 left in the third quarter. Jake Wieclaw's field goal with 14 seconds left got the Hurricanes within seven, but Boston College took possession after the ensuing onside-kick attempt went out of bounds.