BOSTON (AP) — Boston College running back AJ Dillon surely could have piled up a bunch of yards after his quick start.
But Eagles coach Steve Addazio decided the short week and a big lead meant limited playing time for many of his starters.
Dillon ran for 149 yards and three touchdowns in less than a quarter, and Boston College beat old, in-state rival Holy Cross 62-14 Saturday in the schools’ first meeting in 32 years.
Dillon, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason player of the year, carried just six times before BC (2-0) went to its reserves late in the first quarter. Quarterback Anthony Brown completed his only two passes for 53 yards.
“The tone was set from the first drive,” Addazio said. “AJ was running at will and I thought both sides of the ball played extremely well.”
Eagles’ reserve QBs EJ Perry and Matt McDonald each threw for two TDs and cornerback Hamp Cheevers returned an interception 81 yards for a score.
“Certainly being able to get our players off the field early was a good thing,” Addazio said.
Holy Cross (0-2) blocked two punts for TDs.
“A very good football team; one that we don’t necessarily see the likes of,” Holy Cross first-year coach Bob Chesney said. “They did a great job. That running back is something special.”
Dillon was done for the day when BC took the ball for its fourth series with 5:05 left in the opening quarter. What would he have gone for?
“Ah, whew, six carries, 149 yards, three touchdowns,” Brown said, smiling. “It was kind of fun, but annoying because it takes me out of the game. I love playing football. It’s so fun watching him play. Even if he had played more, everybody has an imagination, so I’m just going to let everybody think on that.”
It was the 83rd game between the Jesuit schools that once made up New England’s biggest football rivalry.
The series ended when Holy Cross joined the Patriot League and cut its athletic scholarships after BC’s victory in 1986. The loss of scholarships also prevented BC – then a 1-A program (now FBS) – from playing a then-1-A (now FCS) school in games that would count toward bowl eligibility.
But in 2013 the Patriot League returned athletic scholarships and the schools agreed to resume the series. They are slated to meet on BC’s campus in 2020.
Dillon went 54 yards on BC’s first play from scrimmage and scored three plays later, running in untouched from 7 yards out.
On the first play of the Eagles’ second possession, Dillon went around the right end, broke two tackles, and jumped over a diving defender near the 10-yard line before completing his 74-yard score. His third was a 7-yarder, making it 21-0 midway into the opening quarter.
On the opening kickoff, Holy Cross’ linebacker Jack Haddon was hit hard on coverage and was face-first on the turf for a while. The crushing hit on him brought ‘Oohs’ from some fans in the stands, expecting to see an early blowout, but also appearing concerned about the teams’ size difference. Addazio checked on Haddon, who walked off slowly.
LIKES THE RULE
Addazio was happy about the NCAA’s new rule where freshmen can gain experience in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility before being redshirted.
He used them a lot Saturday and in last week’s season-opening romp over Massachusetts.
“I think these first couple of games got guys a chance to really get a sense of that with no cost factor,” he said.
Holy Cross: The experience may have helped. … There was a large contingent of fans dressed in purple and white – Holy Cross’ colors — around pregame and in the stands.
“A little bit too much for us at this moment,” Chesney said of BC.
Boston College: The Eagles, expected to be improved in conference play, get their first test at Wake Forest Thursday.
“You always worry about the shock level of play sometimes,” Addazio said. “But the one thing we do around here is we go ones versus ones in practice a lot.”
Holy Cross: Hosts Yale next Saturday.
Boston College: Plays at Wake Forest in its ACC opener in Thursday’s nationally-televised game.