Emmett Morehead’s late TD pass to Joe Griffin Jr. lifts BC over NC State

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lance king

Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) celebrated the first of his two touchdown catches, a 17-yarder in the first quarter. Lance King/Getty Images

As Boston College marched into the field late Saturday night in the fourth quarter and North Carolina State’s elite defenses began to crumble, Marcus Valdez, the Eagles’ defensive end, could feel the energy dissipate at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Eagles needed a touchdown and an extra point to end the No. 17 Wolfpack’s 16-game home winning streak and cement their first win over an Associated Press top-25 team since 2014.

With the game on the line, redshirt quarterback Emmett Morehead kept it simple, uncorking standout freshman Joe Griffin Jr. with a pinpoint back-shoulder throw they’d executed hundreds of times in practice.

Griffin made a spectacular one-handed grab with 14 seconds left to end a 12-play, 69-yard drive that spanned 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Connor Lytton drilled the extra point, the defense came with one last stop and the Eagles stunned the Wolfpack, 21-20, in Raleigh, NC

“Honestly, it’s probably the best feeling I’ve had here in six years,” Valdez said.

Towards the end of the first quarter, BC receiver Zay Flowers (7 catches, 130 yards, 2 TDs) became the program’s all-time leader with 2,804 receiving yards, overtaking Alex Amidon (2,800 from 2010-13). He then caught a 17-yard TD pass from Morehead to reduce the deficit to 14-7 with 2:30 left in the first quarter.

“I’ve got him up against every wide receiver in the country right now,” Hafley said. “To be honest, there isn’t another wide receiver I want on my team.”

Neto Okpala and Vinny DePalma helped the Eagles stuff the Wolfpack in fourth place and a goal from the 1 midway through the second quarter, but BC couldn’t take advantage offensively. Christopher Dunn drilled a 30-yard field goal on the subsequent NC State drive to push the lead to 10 with 1:36 at the half.

Morehead, who threw four TD passes in his first career start against Duke last week, was strong against the ACC’s best defense (17.8 points per game allowed) in stretches.

“He’s so calm,” Flowers said. “It feels like you never play with Emmett.”

However, Morehead threw a costly interception late in the half to stem BC’s momentum and help the Wolfpack maintain a 17-7 halftime cushion. There were some games he wanted back, but Hafley reminded Morehead to keep calm and continue to believe in himself.

BC had a 140-124 advantage in passing yards in the first half, but NC State’s 150-2 advantage in rushing yards and three sacks paid off. The Eagles finished the half 0-6 in third place, conceding 8.1 yards per game.

Dunn drilled a 45-yarder to extend NC State’s lead to 20-7 early in the third. Four minutes later, Flowers zigzagged his way into the end zone for a 35-yard shot to reduce the deficit to 20-14 and give the Eagles some much-needed momentum.

“He’s out there like a wizard,” Hafley said.

NC State, also playing with a promising but inexperienced quarterback, gave the Eagles plenty of chances late. Morris fumbled near midfield and Okpala recovered, but Morehead threw another pick moments later as NC State maintained a 6-point lead through three.

DePalma recovered from a fumble early in the fourth and Elijah Jones later intercepted Morris, but the Eagles failed to capitalize until the final drive.

Morehead found Dino Tomlin for 29 yards and George Takacs for 17 and finally Griffin to secure one of the Eagles’ most monumental wins this millennium.

The 25 straight defeats to ranked teams – the second-longest streak in the country – are history and Hafley couldn’t be happier. As the Eagles celebrated, Hafley didn’t want them to stop.

It was just a win, but it carried more weight because of what came before and what the Eagles hope will follow.

“Nobody thought we could win, but the one group that did was our team,” Hafley said. “This locker room is still noisy at the moment and it will be and it should be. They earn it. I’m really, really proud of her.”

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