Boston College 28,
-- The play that ultimately inspired Boston College's victory over Virginia on Saturday initially resulted in the ejection of an Eagles starter and led to a Cavaliers touchdown two plays later.
But Brad Butler's hit to the back of the knees of Boston College all-American Mathias Kiwanuka well after the whistle angered the No. 18 Eagles and spurred them to a 28-17 comeback victory in front of a sparse crowd of 35,280 at Alumni Stadium.
"When you get those guys angry, you're in trouble," Kiwanuka said. "I knew it was going to be a long day for Virginia after that. The way we played after that point was incredible."
With the score tied at 7 early in the third quarter, Butler hit Kiwanuka from behind after quarterback Marques Hagans threw an incomplete pass. Kiwanuka, a defensive end who is expected to be a first-round choice in April's NFL draft, lay on the ground and slammed his fist into the turf. Defensive tackle Al Washington saw the late hit, jumped on Butler and was ejected for retaliating.
"I thought it was uncalled for," Washington said. "When you see something like that, it fires you up."
Later in the third quarter, Kiwanuka retaliated against Butler, punching him after Hagans threw incomplete to tight end Jonathan Stupar. Kiwanuka was ejected from the game with 5 minutes 38 seconds left to play in the third.
"I definitely don't feel like the one who has to explain why he lost his poise," Kiwanuka said. "When you're matched up against players who think they're not evenly matched physically, they're going to take their shots."
Butler refused to talk about the play after the game, saying: "I wasn't called for a personal foul on the play. As far as the past, I play hard and play to the whistle. That's how all of our linemen play."
The Cavaliers scored two plays after the initial fracas on Hagans's 23-yard touchdown pass to Deyon Williams to take a 14-7 lead. But when Boston College got the football back, Kiwanuka said he had little doubt which team was going to win the game after looking in the eyes of tackles Jeremy Trueblood and Gosder Cherilus.
After taking the ensuing kickoff, Boston College (5-1, 2-1 ACC) needed only nine plays to drive 72 yards and tie the score at 14 on senior Quinton Porter's 19-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez.
Virginia was quickly forced to punt on its next possession, and Eagles safety Paul Anderson rushed from the left side and blocked Chris Gould's punt. The football bounced backward and Gould kicked it out of the end zone from the 4-yard line, which is an illegal kick in college football.
The Cavaliers (3-2, 1-2 ACC) were penalized two yards, giving Boston College possession at the 2, and sophomore Brian Toal scored on a one-yard run two plays later for a 21-14 lead with 5:46 left to play in the third quarter.
"It was the same rush Boston College had been using throughout the game that we had blocked effectively," Virginia Coach Al Groh said of the blocked punt. "For whatever reason, somebody changed the protection call for what it had been on all the previous plays. You'd like him to scoop it up and run it out. He was thinking right -- he was trying to get the ball off the field. Unfortunately, his way of doing it was against the rules."
The Cavaliers wilted late for the second week in a row. After allowing Maryland to score 21 points in the fourth quarter of last week's 45-33 loss in College Park, Virginia couldn't slow down the Eagles. Connor Hughes kicked a 37-yard field goal to cut Boston College's lead to 21-17 late in the third quarter, and then forced the Eagles to fumble inside the Virginia 20.
But Virginia picked up only one first down on its next possession, after Williams dropped a pass on third and four. The Eagles took over with about 111/2 minutes to go, and on third and six from the Virginia 29, Porter threw down the left sideline.
Safety Tony Franklin seemed ready to intercept the pass, but wide receiver Kevin Challenger took the football away from him for a 28-yard gain to the 1. Toal ran it in on the next play to give the Eagles a 28-17 lead with 8:17 remaining.
Virginia drove to the Boston College 10 with about five minutes left and tailback Michael Johnson ran for eight yards combined on the first two plays. On third and goal from the 2, Hagans threw to the left corner of the end zone, but the pass was too far over Williams's head.
On fourth down, Hagans threw to the back of the end zone, and Williams got his hands on the football before colliding with teammate Fontel Mines and two Boston College defensive backs.
"We knew it was going to be a fourth-quarter game," cornerback Marcus Hamilton said. "We didn't take care of business in the fourth quarter."