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He led Boston College's rally at Notre Dame, inspired comparisons to a BC legend and has pretty clear access to a Bowl Championship Series bid.

Naturally, all Paul Peterson wants to talk about is the Red Sox.

"They converted me," he explained.

He's a Bostonian from South Jordan via Ephraim, a returned LDS missionary quarterbacking the football team on a Jesuit campus where other students consider him a little strange - only because he's married. Having once shipped videotapes to a couple of dozen schools that he figured might need a junior college transfer, he's thriving in the Big East.

"It worked out perfectly," Peterson said.

Notre Dame is less inclined to think so, after what Peterson and the Eagles did last Saturday. After completing a 17-yard pass on a fourth-and-13 play to keep the last-minute drive going, Peterson lofted a 30-yard pass into the end zone and Tony Gonzalez outjumped a Fighting Irish defender for the winning score in BC's 24-23 victory.

The Mormon quarterback's pass that decided the Catholic rivalry game will be recorded in religious annals right next to the play when two Catholics connected to give Brigham Young a miracle victory over Southern Methodist in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.

Peterson was 19-for-23 for 297 yards in the second half, completing a 383-yard day, and the comeback was enough for the Boston Globe to award Peterson the ultimate BC compliment: a "Flutie-like performance," coming as it did on Doug Flutie's birthday.

Generously listed at 6 feet, Peterson already was being compared to Flutie as a mobile, playmaking quarterback with a knack for overachieving. He's also a self-marketing success story, seemingly worth extra credit as he pursues a business management degree.

"To be able to play at this level, you had to sell yourself," Peterson said.

He starred at Bingham High, but received scholarship offers only from Division II and lower-level schools. After his two-year mission to Nicaragua, he enrolled at Snow College in 2001 and became the starting quarterback only a couple of months later.

"I was a little frail, but coach [Jeff] Kilts stayed with me and let me battle through the rest of the season," Peterson said. "I always thought in the back of mind that I could play; I just needed a chance to prove that. I'm just lucky I got that chance."

The next step was impressing Division I-A recruiters. Major college coaches know the way to Ephraim; Josh Heupel quarterbacked Oklahoma to a national championship after playing for Snow in 1998 and offensive lineman Deuce Lutui is starting for No. 1 USC after spending last season with the Badgers.

Yet Peterson determined that being proactive was his best hope. He produced a highlight tape and used Internet research to target schools with QB openings. BC rarely takes JC transfers, but the Eagles jumped on Peterson.

Within a few days of receiving Peterson's film, a BC assistant coach was on his way to Utah. "It was pretty much done," Peterson said. "I was surprised how fast it all came together."

So the brother of former BYU quarterback Charlie Peterson was on his way to BC, where Gary Crowton once coached the QBs.

Peterson shared the quarterback job most of last season and started the final three games, including a San Francisco Bowl win over Colorado State. This year, the Eagles are 5-2 and on the verge of a Top 25 ranking.

Even though they recently lost in overtime to Pittsburgh, they can win the Big East title by upsetting West Virginia on Nov. 13 and having Pittsburgh lose a game. In a league weakened by the departure of Miami, a championship still carries an automatic BCS invitation.

"That's a great opportunity for us," Peterson said.

Things would have to fall BC's way for the Sugar Bowl to become a reality. But judging by the Eagles' rally at Notre Dame and the Red Sox's postseason breakthrough, this could be Boston's year.

Go East, Young Man

Name: Paul Peterson

Age: 24

Height/weight: 6-0, 180

High school: Bingham, 38 TD passes in 1997-98.

Junior college: Snow, 5,500 yards and 55 TD passes in 2001-02; met future wife, Meagan.

Boston College: 8-2 as a starter in two seasons; 2004 stats: 145 of 239 (60.7 percent), 1,785 yards, 12 touchdowns, eight interceptions in seven games.