BOSTON — First, there was the Disappointment in the Desert. Then, on Saturday at Alumni Stadium, came Squandered Chances at Chestnut Hill.
It was another chapter in the ongoing saga of maddening losses for BYU, who fell in double overtime to No. 23 Boston College, 30-23.
Not only did the Cougars lose, they lost in painful fashion, committing critical miscues that kept them from pulling off an upset of a ranked Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.
For BYU, victory slipped away like fog rolling off the Boston Harbor.
After neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard in the first overtime, Boston College scored on its first play of the second overtime when quarterback Matt Ryan connected with wide receiver Tony Gonzalez for a 25-yard scoring strike.
On BYU's ensuing possession, it drove to the Eagles' 14. That's when quarterback John Beck's pass intended for Manase Tonga was tipped and free safety Jaime Silva dove for the ball. Mountain West Conference officials initially ruled the play an incompletion, but upon further review, Silva was credited with the interception, ending the game and touching off a jubilant BC celebration. It marked the Eagles' second double-overtime victory in consecutive weeks.
"I thought I had it," Silva said of his game-clinching interception. "I was hoping that one of the cameras would show that I got my hand underneath the ball. I tried to appeal to the referees, and then they went to the replay tape. Fortunately, they saw that I did get an arm under the ball. If it wasn't for (linebacker Robert) Francois blocking that pass, it might have been a touchdown. I was just crossing my fingers and hoping it was an interception."
BYU's setback was reminiscent of its 16-13 loss in the season-opener at Arizona on a last-second field goal. "It's kind of frustrating. Two weeks ago, it was the same thing," said BYU linebacker Bryan Kehl. "We had our opportunity to win."
With 2:53 remaining in the game, the score tied at 23-apiece, placekicker Jared McLaughlin's 44-yard field-goal attempt clanged off the left upright. On the day, McLaughlin made three field goals — including a career-high 50-yarder — and missed three others.
In the first overtime, on a 43-yard field goal attempt by McLaughlin, holder Jason Beck dropped the snap. McLaughlin picked up the ball and threw a pass intended for Tonga that fell incomplete.
But the Cougars say the blame for this loss does not lie solely with the special teams.
"I don't think any one particular phase (of BYU's game — offense, defense or special teams) lost it," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I think there were chances for each phase to win the football game. There were chances for our offense to win the game, there were chances for the defense to win the game, and there were chances on special teams."
It was an inconsistent performance by the Cougars, who looked good at times and looked bad at times. While BYU rolled up 547 yards of total offense (BC had 471 yards) and forced four turnovers, the Cougars committed 10 penalties and surrendered three turnovers.
"I think the precision and execution for our program, regardless of circumstances, is something we need to move forward on, and something that is needed to reach our goals," Mendenhall said. "Our goal is being the conference champion, and our goal is being a team that is a contender on the national level. These kinds of games make it very clear when we don't measure up in some of those areas."
"We have to out-execute every team we play," said running back Curtis Brown, who rushed 15 times for 54 yards and caught 11 passes for 94 yards. "We don't want games to come down to field goals. We had opportunities to score a lot of points in this game, and we weren't able to take advantage of that."
After BYU marched 66 yards for a touchdown on its first drive of the game, Cougar safety Dustin Gabriel caused a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Cameron Jensen at the BC 34 with a chance to take a quick 14-0 lead. But two false start penalties stalled the drive, which culminated with a missed 49-yard field goal. That's the kind of day it was for the Cougars.
BYU dropped to 1-2 on the season while Boston College improved to 3-0. The Cougars host Utah State next Saturday.