Ryan Passes Boston College Past Wake Forest

Associated Press
Saturday, September 1, 2007; 8:09 PM

BOSTON (AP) -- Matt Ryan threw for five touchdowns -- second most at Boston College only to Doug Flutie -- and DeJuan Tribble intercepted three passes on Saturday to help the Eagles beat Wake Forest 38-28 and give Jeff Jagodzinski a victory in his head coaching debut.

The last 40 seconds of the game were delayed when an official was injured in a collision with a Wake Forest receiver on a pass route. He went to the turf, immobile, and was strapped to a board before being driven off the field on a flatbed golf cart.

Ryan completed 32-of-52 passes for a career-high 408 yards, rebounding after his first pass of the season was intercepted by Alphonso Smith and returned for a touchdown. It was a tough start for Jagodzinski, the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator who took over when Tom O'Brien defected to North Carolina State, but the Eagles quickly recovered.

Ryan hooked up with 10 different receivers -- including himself, on a ball that was batted at the line -- and threw for more than 400 yards against Wake Forest for the second consecutive year. But this year's outcome was better than last year, when the Demon Deacons won 21-14 on their way to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Riley Skinner completed 28-of-37 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown for Wake Forest, but he was picked off by Tribble three times -- twice in the end zone. Skinner was injured after scrambling from the pocket late in the third quarter and was replaced by Brett Hodges; he was 17-for-23 with one touchdown and an interception in the final minute that sealed the victory for BC.

Kenneth Moore tied a Wake Forest record with 15 catches -- one short of the ACC record held by four players -- for 126 yards and a touchdown.

The Demon Deacons' last sustained drive ended when they turned the ball over on downs with 5:55 left in the game after Rich Belton failed to pick up one yard on consecutive runs into the line, stopped on a fourth-and-1 by Mark Herzlich and Nick Larkin. Steve Aponavicius, who came out of the stands to make the team last year, kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:46 left to ice it.

Hodges took Wake Forest on a 77-yard touchdown drive on his first series, hitting Kevin Harris for an 8-yard pass to make it 35-28.

Ryan surpassed 5,000 yards in his career, and connected with Flutie's nephew, Billy, for his first two career catches.

Ryan set career highs by completing 40-of-57 passes for 402 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest last year, but he also threw two interceptions in the end zone. Things started off poorly for him this year, too.

After Andre Callender bobbled the opening kickoff, Smith picked Ryan off and ran it back 21 yards to give Wake Forest a 7-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game. Boston College was forced to punt, then Skinner took the Demon Deacons downfield before hitting Moore for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Ryan then completed nine in a row -- six of them on a 67-yard TD drive that ended when cornerback Kerry Major went for the interception and missed, allowing Kevin Challenger to gather in the ball for a 19-yard score.

BC tied it after Sam Swank's punt into the wind took a favorable bounce and went just 22 yards, to the Wake Forest 38. On the next play Ryan threw long to Rich Gunnell in the end zone to tie it 14-all.

Tribble intercepted Skinner with a diving catch in the corner of the end zone to stop on Wake Forest drive. But the Demon Deacons took the lead when Alphonso Smith knocked the ball loose from A.J. Brooks, and Chip Vaughn picked it up and went 38 yards to make it 21-14.

Ryan connected with Clarence Megwa on a tipped ball to tie the game 21-21 and hit Brandon Robinson from 10 yards out with 7:01 left in the third to give Boston College its first lead of the game, 28-21. Ryan, who had never thrown for four touchdowns in a game, completed his fifth TD to Gunnell to give BC a 35-21 lead late in the third.

© 2007 The Associated Press