Spending a weekend at home in Western Massachusetts, the trip to Boston College was a last minute decision, but a great chance to sneak a quick game in at a venue I had never seen before. My mother, ever the spontaneous adventure nut, agreed to come along and spend a sunny New England fall day watching a few helmets pop. After an epic breakfast that only a Mom can make, we drive the two hours into Boston through the fading fall colors along Route 2. The traffic is surprisingly light given the Red Sox World Series victory parade going on downtown, and we slide into Chestnut Hill effortlessly. Even parking – the hellish, waterboarding nightmare that it can be in Boston – proves easy, and we slide into a free spot on Hammond Avenue a stones throw from Alumni Stadium.
We walk through the picturesque Chestnut Hill neighborhood adjacent to the Boston College Campus. Bright autumn colors are in full bloom on the tree lined streets, both sides abutted by large New England mansions. A few understated ranch houses are interspersed between some of the garish larger houses, but even those tiny ranches will still set you back $1.2 million dollars according to my Zillow app. Audi’s and Range Rovers are stuffed into every driveway, and well manicured grounds belie one of the more affluent Boston suburbs.
Making our way over to campus, the grounds are among the more picturesque I have seen on my travels, especially in context to some of the dour urban Boston campuses like Northeastern or MIT. Massive stone clad buildings flank the main quads, and the St. Ignatius Church soars over tree lined walkways. We tour the grounds a bit, and inspect some of the tailgating surrounding the stadium, but the overall atmosphere is rather subdued given the tight confines of the campus and insipid noon kickoff time.
As kickoff approaches, I circle the stadium with two fingers raised in the air signaling my need for a pair of tickets. This proves a much harder task than typical. Boston College has rigorously cut down on scalping or reselling of any kind, and because the entire campus is private property they can enforce it vigilantly. After making several passes to no avail, a guy finally whispers in my ear that he has two for sale, and we discreetly duck behind a few buildings to complete the sordid transaction. Prying a few 40 yard line seats off him for $30 bucks apiece, we narrowly avoid the BC ticket Gestapo. Given the dismal attendance numbers at Eagle games this year, perhaps they ought to consider loosening their draconian ticket policies.
Shortly before kickoff, the Boston College teams forms a line and walks to midfield where they shake hands with the opposing Hokies. While a half hearted post game handshake is usually the norm, I’d never witnessed a pre game handshake between the entire squads before. When the contest kicks off, it’s a magnificent fall day for football – 60 degrees and sunny. The stands are noticeably vacant, however, and don’t really fill up until midway through the second quarter. Bostonians kept trickling in late to fill the grandstands, presumably after attending the Red Sox victory parade downtown. It’s a subtle reminder that even on its best day, BC Football is only the fifth most important team in town. But the Eagles in traditional fashion, play plucky football against presumed superior competition. At the half they are only down by a field goal 10-7.
As the third quarter winds on, Boston College bowling ball running back Andre Williams goes to work. The 6’0” 227lb running back barrels through holes, shaking would be tacklers with his stout tree trunk legs. Averaging 6.0 yards per carry this season, and already over 1,000 yards, the future looks bright for the Schnecksville, PA senior. Late in the 4th quarter with BC leading by a touchdown after a 33 yard interception return, Williams ices the game for the Eagles. He blasts through the Hokie defensive line unabated, streaking 62 yards down the field on a touchdown run that sets the score at 34-20, all but ending the game. The Hokies would respond with a touchdown, but ultimately fall short, as the Eagles go on to claim the upset victory 34-27.
On the way home we stop for a bite to eat – a lobster roll specifically. There’s no way this New England boy is missing out on one of these ocean delights before heading back to the landlocked confines of the Midwest…
Special thanks to my mother for coming along on a last minute trip to Boston College. It was a pristine weekend for football, and always special to spend a day with your Mom. Look forward to a trip next year!
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