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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #57: Glenn Foley

Some entries on this list are because of a single moment. Glenn Foley is one of them.

I’ve never been a huge college football guy. I’ve enjoyed UNH games, and the old NCAA football game on the PS4 was a blast (hopefully the compensation of college athletes will breathe new life into that classic), but I’ve never really a devotee of the college gridiron.

That said, one of my favorite sports memories stems from the late fall of 1993, and a college football game. It was November 20, and it was my first year in college. On a quiet Saturday I found myself in the common room in Hitchcock Hall watching the BC Eagles (ranked #17 nationally) taking on the undefeated and top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Aside: kids, this was when you didn’t have games streaming on your phone - heck, we didn’t even have cable in our rooms. To watch a game you went into a sort of living room at the end of the hall and sat there with a bunch of people you didn’t know.)

The Irish were supposed to steamroll the Eagles (an 18-point underdog) in South Bend en route to an undefeated national title. (Aside: kids, this was when there was no college football playoff, and sportswriters figures out who the best team was by arguing about it.) Boston College and their coach (shudder) Tom Coughlin has other plans.

Enter Glenn Foley. The Eagles QB was not a stud, but rather a serviceable D-I QB - though in his senior season he turned in 25 TDs and finished fifth in Heisman voting. This game would prove to be his shining moment. Behind Foley’s three first-half touchdown passes, the Eagles led 31-14 in the third quarter over the stunned home Irish. Early in the fourth quarter, a fourth Foley TD pass put BC up 38-17, a seemingly insurmountable lead.

And yet.

A furious eleven-minute stretch brought Notre Dame all the way back, staking them to a 39-38 lead with just 67 seconds to play. The Irish were going to dodge this bullet and head to Arizona to play Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl to convince sportswriters who was number one.

And yet.

Glenn Foley led the Eagles all the way to the Notre Dame 24, and with five seconds left on the clock they’d have a field goal attempt for the win. The snap was high (Foley snagged it as the holder) and kicker David Gordon nailed a 41-yarder (his precious career high was 39 yards) as time expired. Touchdown Jesus wept, and well he should have. It would be twenty years before perennial powerhouse Notre Dame would be a national title contender again. Meanwhile, Boston College had their biggest football win since Flutie and the Hail Mary.

(Aside: one of my favorite stories relates to the Boston College post-season football banquet. Keynote speaker was retired House Speaker and Boston native Tip O’Neill, a huge Irishman and huge fan of his alma mater BC. The BC team presented Tip with a shirt that read on the front “God made the Irish Number One and on the back, “BC made them Number Two.")

Glenn Foley would sneak into the NFL as a 7th round pick by the Jets. He’d play for them here and there over the next few years, never really getting a chance before injuries ended his career. But we’ll always have November 20, 1993, won’t we?

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