ATLANTA -- So much for the notion that Georgia Tech's defensive shortcomings could be easily corrected by new coordinator Randy Edsall.
The Yellow Jackets' defense was feeble Saturday in Edsall's debut. Boston College, looking like a powerhouse, bulled to a 41-31 upset before a crowd of 38,229 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
In allowing 491 yards of offense, including 200 yards rushing on 34 attempts by senior tailback Mike Cloud, Tech picked up where it left off last season -- surrendering 30 points to West Virginia in a Carquest Bowl win and allowing Georgia to drive 65 yards for a touchdown in the final 48 seconds in a bitter regular-season-ending loss.
"Awful," said Edsall, who was the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary coach for three years. "Any time you give up 41 points and a team rushes for 271 and passes for 220, yeah, it's bad. BC's a good football team, but we can't let this happen."
Former defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable resigned after the Jackets finished 98th nationally out of 112 teams in total defense last year, allowing 429 yards. The 3,259 passing yards Tech allowed were the most in Division I-A and the most in school history. Thanks to a potent offense, the Jackets finished 7-5.
The performance against BC was reminiscent of last year's lowest points, including a game against Duke in which the Blue Devils rolled up 610 yards.
"I just thought I saw a lot of young kids running around not reacting to what they saw or reacting too late," coach George O'Leary said.
Asked whether new twists installed by Edsall might have caused some confusion, O'Leary said. "I do think we had some calls in that were new and were there to take care of some BC stuff that we didn't execute very well."
Tech's offense was better, but far from excellent. Quarterback Joe Hamilton completed 15 of 29 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, and he ran for another touchdown. Charlie Rogers totaled 110 yards running and receiving, including a 58-yard touchdown run out of the wishbone. But with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Tech was forced to give up the ball on its 9-yard line after Ed Wilder, David Powell and Dez White each dropped passes.
"Joe Hamilton is Joe Hamilton," O'Leary said. "Everybody else around him needs to play better. When you score 31 points, that should be good enough to win."
Although the game was tied at 17, 24 and 31, Tech never led. In fact, the Jackets only had the ball one time after the first quarter when they didn't trail. On that possession -- early in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 24 -- they were forced to punt from the BC 41.
The first sign of trouble for Tech came on its opening drive, when Brad Chambers missed a 34-yard field goal after the Jackets drove to the BC 17. BC, which lost last year's game in Chestnut Hill, Mass., 42-14, marched 62 yards shortly thereafter for a 27-yard field goal by John Matich.
Early in the second quarter, Cloud scored the first of his two touchdowns, and the Eagles led 10-0. A track meet was underway.
Tech pulled to within three, 10-7, with an 8-yard keeper by Hamilton that was set up by a 29-yard pass to Rogers. But BC, beginning a drive on is 38 with only 55 seconds left in the half, scored again on a 15-yard pass from Mutryn to tight end Rob Tardio.
His team leading 17-7 with 21 seconds left in the half, BC coach Tom O'Brien called for a squib kickoff. Tech's Conrad Andrzejewski pounced on the ball at the 48 and took a late hit from a BC player, who was called for personal foul. Hamilton then threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Powell, cutting the deficit to 17-14 before the half.
A 23-yard field goal by Chambers early in the third quarter tied the game at 17, and Tech appeared to have momentum. But BC answered with an 80-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard scoring run by Cloud.
After Rogers scored on a 58-yard pitch right out of the wishbone to make it 24-24, BC drove 80 yards on only five plays, going up 31-24 on a 3-yard keeper by Mutryn.
Tech's last score was a 6-yard TD pass from Hamilton to Wilder, tying the game at 31 with 7:06 remaining. BC then drove 58 yards took a 34-31 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Matich.
Mutryn's 5-yard run with 1:28 remaining accounted for the final points.