for this game

Ryan pulls another one out of the fire for Boston College

Nov 18, 2007 - 6:15 AM CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- After a couple of off games, Matt Ryan found his magic touch.

Ryan threw a late touchdown pass and No. 18 Boston College booked a trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 20-17 victory over 15th-ranked Clemson on Saturday.

With the win, the Eagles (9-2, 5-2 Atlantic) claim the ACC Atlantic Division crown. Boston College will meet Virginia or Virginia Tech in the ACC title game in two weeks. The Cavaliers and Hokies meet to decide the Coastal Division title next Saturday.

"One of the things we said is that we have been banging our head on that glass ceiling for years and I told them at breakfast this morning that it's glass for a reason because you can break through it," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "I told them it was our turn to do that. We had the opportunity today and we ended up breaking that glass ceiling."

Saturday's victory provides at least a bit of redemption for Boston College, which was ranked No. 2 in the polls two weeks ago before losses to Florida State and Maryland.

Ryan threw for 421 yards and three TDs but was intercepted twice against the Terps. He was picked off three times in a loss to Florida State the previous week.

The week before the loss to the Seminoles, Ryan, at least briefly, established himself as a Heisman Trophy candidate with a comeback win at Virginia Tech in which he threw two TD passes in the final 2:11, including one with 11 seconds left to Andre Callender in a 14-10 win.

Ryan's primary target on Saturday was Rich Gunnell.

As Ryan rolled to his right after the pocket collapsed, he stopped, planted and threw deep across the field. It was similar to his TD pass against Virginia Tech and it had the same result. Gunnell got behind the Clemson defense and was alone to haul in the 43-yard TD pass and give the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 1:47 to play.

"If you give him one down and take even one play off, he can hurt you. You can sack him, but he's going to bounce back," Clemson coach Terry Bowden said of Ryan. "He's tall and scrambles. We were able to get good pressure though. He is a great player, we were beaten by the best quarterback in the nation."

Clemson (8-3, 5-3 Atlantic) gave itself a chance in the closing seconds, but could not make the plays when it counted.

Junior wide receiver Aaron Kelly dropped a pass at the BC 3 with 42 seconds left and quarterback Cullen Harper took a sack with 11 seconds left that proved to be costly.

Mark Buchholz came on for a potential game-tying field goal from 54 yards out that came up short. If not for the sack, the kick looked like it would have had a chance.

Clemson entered the game on a roll, having won four straight games, including a 44-10 rout of defending conference champ Wake Forest last week. The Tigers looked like they were going to have a chance to succeed the Demon Deacons as league champs when Harper scored on a four-yard run with 5:53 to play to give Clemson a 17-13 lead.

The Eagles have now won their three meetings with the Tigers since joining the ACC by a combined seven points, including a 34-33 victory on a blocked extra point in double overtime last year.

"The best part of Boston College's football team is its team. That's the way we played today," Jagodzinski said. "We had a lot of adversity this past week. Our linebackers weren't playing. We lost our kick returner to a concussion. We lost our All-American starting corner and our guys just banded together to win. I told them it wouldn't be one individual that won the game but our whole team.

"I'm really proud of our guys. Coming down here and playing in a venue like this is tough on the road and our guys overcame it. It was a great football game and I'm fortunate it swung our way."