BOSTON -- Boston College coach Steve Addazio was even surprised by Anthony Brown's first game back.
Brown threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns while playing just the opening half in his return from a season-ending knee injury, and the Eagles opened their 120th season with a 55-21 victory over in-state rival Massachusetts on Saturday.
"Yes, just, you know, yeah," Addazio said. "Coming back in game one, we were real careful with him in preseason camp. There were no signs there was going to be an issue, but my experience tells me there can be.
"It's over now in terms of hesitation and not being confident. He exceeded my expectations relative to that."
Brown, a redshirt sophomore, completed 15 of 21 passes and led the Eagles on TD drives in seven of their nine first-half possession before sitting out the second half. He missed the final two regular-season games and the bowl game last year after a non-contact, right knee injury that required surgery.
"I thought Anthony Brown played an outstanding game coming back from an injury, probably one of best performances that's been played around here for a long time," Addazio said.
AJ Dillon, the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason player of the year, carried 20 times for 98 yards in two quarters. He also had a 15-yard TD catch in the opening half before he was removed.
But it was Brown that sparked the offense, which collected 622 total yards.
"My teammates helped a lot and supported me all the way through the journey," Brown said. "I was really excited. I was like an 8-year-old. There weren't any jitters at all. We prepared for this day. I put a lot of time into this so my teammates could be ready and I could be ready. There was no nervousness."
"We aren't as good as we were last week and as bad as we were this," UMass coach Mark Whipple said.
Lukas Denis intercepted a pass on the final play of the first half, zig-zagged across the field and returned it 59 yards for a score that gave BC a 48-7 halftime edge.
The Eagles took the lead on the game's first possession, marching 80 yards. Dillon, last season's ACC rookie of the year, caught his first collegiate pass, going in for the score when he hit the right pylon.
After UMass tied it, BC scored on its next three possessions.
Dillon's powerful running is one thing, but when the 6-foot, 245-pound back can catch it and run, it adds a lot to BC's offense.
"It was great to see him because everyone was harping on him all summer that he can run, but he can't catch," Brown said. "It was very exciting to see him open up the game with a receiving touchdown."
Comis sparked UMass' first-half scoring drive, going 2 for 2, including a 49-yard pass to Andy Isabella. Ford struggled in the opening half, going just 5 of 12 for 42 yards.
UMass: Hoping for a program-building statement, the Minutemen were dominated after their quick score. The offense only moved into BC territory twice in the first half.
Boston College: The Eagles were heavy favorites, but it was an impressive showing against an FBS team, though a lower-level program. The true test won't come until ACC play, starting with a nationally-televised game at Wake Forest on Sept. 13.
UMass: At Georgia Southern next Saturday night.
Boston College: Hosts another in-state school, facing Holy Cross next Saturday. It's the first meeting between the Jesuit schools since 1986.
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