2004 | Boston College 37, North Carolina 24

BC Wins Continental Tire Bowl, 37-24

Eagles outscore North Carolina 16-0 in fourth quarter

Dec. 30, 2004

By JENNA FRYER, AP Sports Writer
(reprinted with permission)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Headed off the field on a stretcher with a broken leg, Paul Peterson heard the roar of the crowd and knew his teammates were about to score.

He glanced up at the scoreboard just in time to see kicker Ryan Ohliger take a fake field goal into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown run that sealed Boston College's 37-24 victory over North Carolina in the Continental Tire Bowl on Thursday.

Pumping his fists in celebration, the touchdown temporarily eased the pain for Peterson, the Eagles' hard-luck quarterback.

"I saw it on the screen when they were wheeling me off and I was so pumped," Peterson said. "I'd be pretty ticked off I went out in the first quarter, but I made it to the fourth and we got the win. It's just awesome."

The 25th-ranked Eagles (9-3) never wanted to be in this game, only needing a victory over Syracuse in the regular-season finale to secure their first outright Big East championship and earn a BCS berth.

But Peterson missed that game with a broken hand, and Syracuse beat the Eagles to send them to Charlotte.

So when he broke his left leg in the fourth quarter, coach Tom O'Brien huddled the team at midfield and delivered a passionate speech for his quarterback.

"Paul is the heart and soul of this team, and everyone went back to the huddle and Coach O'Brien said, `We're not going to lose. We're going to put it in the end zone for Paul," said holder Matt Ryan, who handed the fake to Ohliger.

Ryan then replaced Peterson at quarterback.

Clinging to a 27-24 lead over North Carolina (6-6) in the fourth quarter, Peterson was injured as he tried to run outside for a first down on third-and-1 and was brought down awkwardly by Tommy Davis.

As trainers removed Peterson's shoe and cut away his socks while awaiting a stretcher, O'Brien broke from his conservative nature and urged on the Eagles.

"He's not a big speaker, but this time he got us all pumped up," Ohliger said. "And when he called the fake field goal, my eyes almost popped out my head. That is so not him."

Ohliger, a 5-foot-9 freshman, took the handoff from Ryan and raced into the end zone, breaking a tackle a long the way, for a 34-24 lead with 10:32 to play.

"We kind of expected them to do a fake, but we were more favoring the pass than the run," Carolina linebacker Tommy Richardson said. "That was a great call by Mr. O'Brien."

And one that rarely comes out of O'Brien's play book. Although he said the Eagles practice the fake every day, an assistant suggested that O'Brien call it.

Because Ohliger had already missed one field goal and an extra point, O'Brien didn't hesitate.

"What went through my mind was, `We can't make a field goal, so we might as well run it,"' O'Brien said.

Peterson continued his trip to the locker room as the Eagles celebrated. X-rays showed a broken left tibia, and team officials said he would need surgery.

Before leaving, the quarterback went 24-of-33 for 236 yards and two touchdowns, helping Boston College win a bowl game for the fifth straight season.

But he wasn't able to return to the field to accept the game's MVP award. Instead, his wife went out to collect the trophy.

The Eagles gave the Big East its first win in the 3-year-old bowl game. It was BC's final game in the league - it joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Virginia represented the ACC in the first two Tire Bowls, so the inclusion of North Carolina was a welcome change of scenery. Tar Heels fans snapped up over 65,000 tickets, washing out the scattering of Boston College supporters in a sea of light blue.

They had plenty to cheer about early as North Carolina seized the momentum by scoring a pair of touchdowns after Peterson's fumble and Ohliger's missed field goal.

"We certainly had opportunities to win today and that's what it's about - winning," North Carolina coach John Bunting said.