When Boston College quarterback Shawn Halloran entered the second half of Thursday night's Kickoff Classic against Brigham Young, it seemed he had finally rid himself of an awful burden.
The reign of Doug Flutie -- Halloran's predecessor and the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner -- and the good memory of last year were 30 minutes behind him. On top of that, he and the Eagles, playing the defending national champions before 51,227 in Giants Stadium, were only seven points down.
The happy part was that Halloran took the ball on BC's first possession of the third quarter and moved it straight down the field. He threw to his tight end, then found a wide receiver coasting down the sideline. Just like that, he completed five of six passes and even managed to kick the running game into gear. The seven-minute drive covered 80 yards. Halloran held his arms high when Troy Stradford took a sweep around the left corner and into the end zone. It was 14-14 and the world seemed brand new again.
Then came the sad part, for BC. The sad part stood about 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds, dressed in the blue and white of BYU. He was sometimes seen running around as if he had no place in particular to go, and in no great hurry. Even when he took the snap from center and dropped five yards behind his massive offensive line, Robbie Bosco displayed a style that "looked a little unusual," at least to the eyes of BC Coach Jack Bicknell.
Bosco's play in leading the Cougars to a 28-14 victory, their 25th straight, seemed as effortless as letting go of a very hot potato. You might have thought his job amounted to simply rearing back and throwing it right on out of there. But 35 of 53 times there was a receiver out in the wide-open pasture to catch his passes and take them places. This very hot potato, traveling as it did, covered 508 yards.
"How 'bout the night that Bosco had?" BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said.
On the drive that put the Cougars ahead for good, Bosco threw a looper into the New Jersey haze that somehow descended and landed in the hands of wide receiver Glen Kozlowski, who finished with 10 receptions for 241 yards. Then Bosco threw 12 yards to Mark Bellini for the touchdown. The drive was little only in terms of time: 57 seconds. Three plays and 67 yards. Bosco was a little unusual, all right.
In summary, Bicknell said, "I'm not making excuses, but I think we got caught in a game that's hard to play this early in the season." Then: "I think (Bosco) has a tremendous awareness as to where the ball should go."
Poor Bicknell, otherwise known as "Cowboy Jack" for his love of horses and Louis L'Amour novels. More than once during August two-a-day practices, he said he worried less about his quarterback than he did his inexperienced defensive secondary. Coaches don't like to say a quarterback "picked on" any particular weakness of his opponent's, or on any one particular player. "Singled out" is the term you hear. What Bosco did was single out the entire Boston College defense, then he picked on them. He seemed to pick on them all except Mike Ruth, who is 250 pounds of muscle and meanness and light red hair.
Ruth sacked Bosco four times, one of those coming with little more than a wave of his big arm and a howdy-do. He also intercepted one of Bosco's passes, although too late in the game to make a difference. Ruth can bench press 580 pounds and vertical leap 32 inches; he can cover 40 yards in 4.8 seconds. The story here is he wants to be a priest, so much so that he may pass up an opportunity to play in the NFL.
He sounded as if he was working out the rough edges of a homily when he said, "You try your best and let the chips fall where they may. You've got to deal with (losing). It's something you learn. You don't pay attention to what other people say all the time. You look yourself straight in the eye and hope to say that you've done your best."
Ruth played well enough that Edwards said, "That Mike Ruth was something else."
Then he said Robbie Bosco was something else, too, thinking, no doubt, of his quarterback's last good glory, the 12-play, 73-yard drive that cinched it. Bosco passed 22 yards to Kozlowski streaking across the end zone with 8:32 to play.
"Impressive," Bicknell said of Bosco.