BOSTON (AP) — Boston College need a little bit more offense.
The Eagles forced five turnovers — three inside the 5 — but the lackluster offense hurt them once again in a 19-16 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
“We have defensive goal board in the defensive room and the first one is to win,” BC defensive back Justin Simmons said. “Coming off that field with a loss hurts.”
Notre Dame made itself at home in Boston College territory — both at Fenway and on the Eagles’ side of the field.
Taking over Fenway for a far-flung home game, the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish spent most of it on the BC side of the field, overcoming the turnovers. That added to the ND signs above the Green Monster.
“I just think it’s a mindset of the way we wanted to play on defense,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “We wanted to go after them physically, whacking the ball out.”
A few more plays on offense and BC may have added another huge upset of the Irish to its resume of spoiling their championship hopes — like in 1993 and 2002.
Most of the night, it seemed like BC’s defense was playing on its own end of the field. But, when they were tested, they made big stops and turned the Irish over in key situations to keep it close.
The Eagles had their share of memorable moments in the fabled park.
The first came in the opening quarter where safety John Johnson picked off the first of BC’s three interceptions in the right corner of the end zone, near right field where Dwight Evans made his over the shoulder catch in the 1975 World Series.
The Irish (10-1, No. 4 College Football Playoff) have won six in a row since a two-point loss to top-ranked Clemson. If not for three turnovers inside the BC 5-yard line, this one wouldn’t have been close.
DeShone Kizer completed 20 of 38 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Chris Brown caught six passes for 104 yards, and Amir Carlisle had seven catches for 97 yards. C.J. Prosise ran eight times for 57 yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone before leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter.
BC quarterback Jeff Smith ran for 100 yards, breaking free for an 80-yard run to make it 19-9 with about 10 minutes to play. He also hit Charlie Callinan from 3 yards out to make it 19-16 with 54 seconds left.
The Eagles (3-8) attempted an onside kick, but Irish safety Matthias Farley fell on the ball to clinch it and send BC to its seventh straight loss.
“I like where we’re headed now,” Addazio said. “I don’t like it terms of wins and losses.”
Although the century-old ballpark is just a few T stops from Boston College’s Chestnut Hill campus, Notre Dame was officially the home team as part of the “Shamrock Series” — an effort to stay in touch with out-of-town alumni.
Previous scores in those games took the place of the AL East standings on Fenway’s Monster, and the results of games involving teams in the College Football Playoff hunt were displayed on where the baseball scores usually are.
The field was laid out from the third-base line to the right-field bullpens, with the yard markers and end zones decorated in the old-style font of the Red Sox.
The evening begin with a moment of silence for the parents of former BC quarterback Doug Flutie, who died of heart attacks within an hour of each other on Wednesday. The Notre Dame band played “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with the American flag draped over the Green Monster.
The Irish came out of the Boston dugout, where their iconic “Play Like a Champion Today” sign was hung. (Receiver Torii Hunter Jr., whose father and namesake played against the Red Sox for the Tigers, Twins and Angels, was given David Ortiz’s locker in the clubhouse.)
Kizer’s pass was picked off in the BC end zone on Notre Dame’s opening possession. He threw another interception at the Eagles 3 and another near midfield. Notre Dame also coughed up the ball at the Eagles 3 and at the BC 32.
The Irish even fumbled on their only touchdown drive of the first half, but escaped when center Nick Martin fell on the ball. They extended the drive again when Justin Yoon’s 44-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, but the Eagles were called for roughing the kicker.
Two plays later, Kizer hit Carlisle for a 10-yard score to make it 10-0. Notre Dame made it 16-3 in the third quarter when Kizer connected with Brown from 12 yards out on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone, right in front of the visitors’ dugout on what is usually the third-base line.
Yoon’s second field goal made it 19-3.
Smith, who took over in the third quarter for John Fadule, cut through the line and outran the defense for an 80-yard score. A delay of game penalty put the 2-point conversion attempt at the 8, and Smith’s pass sailed out of the end zone incomplete.