Quarterback Robbie Bosco showed such incredible control of his Brigham Young University offense tonight, and of the Boston College defense, that you came away wondering how anything that looked so darned simple could be any fun.
Showcasing his enormous skills before a national television audience, and before the 51,227 in Giants Stadium, Bosco kicked up more than a little dust on the opening leg of the road that might lead to the Heisman Trophy. He completed 35 of 53 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns, and set individual and Giants Stadium records.
His performance helped lead the Cougars, the 1984 national champions, to their 25th consecutive victory by a 28-14 score over Boston College in the third annual Kickoff Classic. As if to prove himself human, Bosco threw four interceptions, one more than Shawn Halloran, the Eagles' junior quarterback who was less than impressive in place of Doug Flutie, last year's Heisman winner who graduated to the U.S. Football League and a multimillion-dollar contract. Halloran completed 18 of 37 passes for 165 yards and led his offense to a total 288 yards, compared with BYU's 535.
"How 'bout the night that Bosco had?" BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. "I sort of anticipated the game to go the way it did. In fact, somebody asked me what I expected the score to be and I said, 'Twenty-eight -- fourteen.' "
The Cougars' last score came when Bosco passed 22 yards to wide receiver Glen Kozlowski streaking across the end zone paint. That touchdown toss was no different than any of the other completions Bosco threw during the 12-play, 73-yard drive, except that it amounted to six points -- making it 28-14 with Gary Webster's kick -- and put the prospective all-America quarterback one yard shy of 500 with more than eight minutes to go in the game.
But Bosco needed more than a good arm to open the scoring. Early in the second quarter, Bosco let go a desperate lob to Mark Bellini in the end zone. As Bellini turned back to make an attempt at the goofy pass, Eagles cornerback Neil Iton bumped him and drew a flag. The interference penalty put the ball on the Boston College eight-yard line and seemed to open the flood gates for the Cougars.
Three plays later, throwing from the six, Bosco found Bellini wide open in the end zone for the touchdown. BYU had traveled 48 yards in eight plays to score with 13:11 remaining in the first half. Webster missed the extra point, and BYU led, 6-0.
On its next possession, BYU needed only four plays to score again. Bosco's first completion to Kozlowski, who made 10 receptions for 241 yards on the night, covered 24 yards. The second went 40 and saw the speedy receiver spin back under the coverage of Rorery Perryman to pull in the ball. Lakei Heimuli bounced off right tackle from the one for the touchdown, giving BYU its second score in less than two minutes.
On the conversion, Bosco rolled right and threw to Kelly Smith in a huddle of defenders for two points. The Cougars led, 14-0, with 9:34 left in the second quarter.
"You try your best and the chips fall where they may," said Boston College nose guard Mike Ruth, who had four quarterback sacks and one interception. "You've got to deal with it . . . You look yourself straight in the eye and hope to say that you've done your best."
Halloran and the Eagles' offense were good for one touchdown drive in the second quarter. He passed 24 yards to running back Troy Stradford to put the ball on the BYU 24, then used a pass interference call to gain a first down and move closer still. Halloran passed 14 yards to his big tight end, Scott Gieselman, to put the ball on the six. Fullback John Mihalik ran two yards for the touchdown with 5:40 left in the half. Tim George was good on the extra point, making it 14-7. "It was tough in the beginning," Halloran said, "but I felt more comfortable after a while. All in all, though, I was pretty disappointed with the way things went."
Halloran entered the second half more relaxed than he had the first, and looked good mixing the run and pass to push the Eagles into the end zone on their first possession. He needed 17 plays to cover 80 yards and use up more than seven minutes on the clock. From the five, Stradford slammed off left tackle, then swung outside for the touchdown. George was good on the point-after, and with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter, the score was tied, 14-14.
But Bosco wasn't long in showing the terrific potential of his offense. After one running play off tackle went nowhere, Bosco took to the air again. He stepped back six yards and let fly a looping spiral that came down 51 yards from the line of scrimmage, and into the hands of Kozlowski, who'd beaten the coverage by what seemed like a country mile.
The next play, from the 12, Bosco threw his second scoring pass to Bellini standing in the wide open pasture behind the Boston College linebacker corps. The drive went 63 yards in three plays and lasted all of 57 seconds. After the extra point, BYU led, 21-14, with 3:38 left on the third-quarter clock. Bellini was on his way to a nine-catch, 111-yard night.
As if to prove that his people weren't lazy and could run, too, Bosco turned to the ground game to eat up much of the fourth-quarter clock. He threw for only nine yards in the last drive, but moved the Cougars down to the Boston College eight before dropping back to throw and having his desperation toss deflected, then intercepted by Ruth.
After the game, Boston College Coach Jack Bicknell said, "No one needs to hype (Bosco), he proved tonight that he can play."