Boston College, Holy Cross face off in historic rivalry

A historic in-state rivalry will be renewed Saturday when Boston College hosts Holy Cross — the preseason No. 5-ranked team in the FCS — at Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Boston College has lost back-to-back season openers. The Eagles (0-1) rallied from a 21-7 fourth-quarter deficit Saturday vs. Northern Illinois but fell 27-24 in overtime.

Meanwhile, four-time Patriot League champion Holy Cross (1-0) will try for its third straight win over an FBS opponent after defeating UConn and Buffalo in the past two seasons.

“This will be a challenge, and our guys will be highly motivated to play the game for a lot of reasons,” Boston College coach Jeff Hafley said.

Hafley said his team must improve in several areas, including execution and discipline after committing 10 penalties against Northern Illinois.

“Donovan (Ezeiruaku, defensive end) told the group, ‘Last year we lost the opener, but this year we need to respond differently,'” Hafley said. “We’ve got to pull together. The plays were there. We’ve just got to execute better.”

UCF transfer Thomas Castellanos and Emmett Morehead both played quarterback for the Eagles in the opener. Hafley has not committed to a starter for this week.

Catellanos orchestrated the late comeback with three second-half touchdown drives. He finished the game with 138 yards and two touchdowns through the air while rushing for 67 yards and a score.

“(Castellanos) runs around like a maniac and makes tremendous plays, and (Morehead) can really throw it and has great command in the huddle,” linebacker Vinny DePalma said. “Everyone’s confident in both guys.”

Holy Cross beat Merrimack 42-20 in Week 1, its 18th consecutive regular-season victory.

Running back Jordan Fuller scored five touchdowns, including four on the ground. He finished with a career-high 120 yards rushing on 13 carries.

The Crusaders return other standouts from last season’s 12-1 team. The lone loss was in the FCS quarterfinal at South Dakota State.

Quarterback Matthew Sluka is a reigning Walter Payton Award finalist who totaled 37 touchdowns (26 passing, 11 rushing) in 2022. Jalen Coker caught 11 TD passes.

The duo connected for one of Sluka’s two scores last week.

“(BC) is certainly going to have a size advantage and some other advantages, but … we’re going to play tough, and we’re going to play together,” Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney said.

Saturday will mark the 84th all-time meeting between the teams. The first was in 1896. Boston College leads the series 49-31-3.

–Field Level Media