Heading into Saturday's game against in Raleigh, questions swirled around this Boston College football team. Would they be able to win on the road outside of Massachusetts, something they hadn't needed to do in their first six games? Would they be able to beat an ACC Atlantic Division foe? Would they be able to impose their will defensively after getting eaten alive by Colorado State? And would they be able to do enough offensively to take home their fourth victory of the season?
Challenge accepted. Challenge defeated.
Tyler Murphy ran for 132 yards, and the Boston College offense outgained the Wolfpack, 411-217, as the Eagles scored a 30-14 victory on Saturday in a game lasting over four hours due to a 56 minute lightning delay. BC improved to 4-2 overall (1-1 ACC) play while NC State dropped to 4-3 overall (0-3 ACC).
A frenetic pace engulfed both teams to start the game and saw dueling touchdowns throughout the first quarter. After taking the opening kickoff, Tyler Murphy completed two consecutive passes to Dan Crimmins, including one for a gain of 23 yards, as BC went 75 yards in eight plays in just under four minutes. Myles Willis collected 21 yards on the ground on the opening drive, which included a pass downfield just out of the reach of Shakim Phillips. Jonathan Hilliman finished the drive with a power sweep to the right from 10 yards out, giving BC a 7-0 lead.
NC State responded with a four minute drive of their own to tie things up with under seven minutes left in the quarter. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett led an attack of 13 plays that shredded the BC defense, going 3-for-4 for 40 yards on the drive. Tony Creecy added 14 yards, punctuating the 65 yard drive with a scoring play from two yards out, tying the game at 7-7.
But BC came right back with Murphy doing what he's done all season long. Running the read option, Murphy came off to the right side, broke through the line of scrimmage, turned on the second gear and coasted home with a 47 yard touchdown carry. The score put BC up 14-7 as Murphy amassed 60 yards on the drive all to himself.
That lead lasted all of 1:49, however, and the Wolfpack tied the game before the quarter came to a close. After Matt Dayes returned the kickoff over the 50 yard line, Brissett again picked apart the BC defense, this time in six plays. Facing a third down, he completed a 22-yard pass to Bo Hines that dropped the Pack on the BC 19 yard line, and he finished off the drive three plays later with a pass to David Grinnage.
The Eagles would take the lead back, 21-14, in the second quarter, off a running play first seen against USC. Tyler Murphy began running the triple option off to the right and dropped a reverse into the hands of Sherm Alston. Alston, who hadn't been seen at all in the Colorado State loss, zipped upfield for 24 yards, striking pay dirt and giving BC a one-score lead.
That's when the lights went on for the BC defense. The Eagles forced three three-and-outs over the course of the quarter, holding NC State to just two yards through the entire quarter. They got tough and stingy, and they were well-rested thanks to a couple of long drives for the offense. Two BC drives resulted in no points but managed to kill half the quarter, including a four-minute drive at the end of the second that resulted in a missed field goal from 52 yards out. BC ran an abysmal two-minute drill and had a chance to open things up but were in position to start the second half with a lead.
With momentum on their side to start the half, Brian Mihalik continued the huge play by the defense. He picked off Brissett and rumbled to the Wolfpack 10 yard line. But before BC could start to ice the game, officials called the game due to lightning and forced a delay that ended up lasting 56 minutes. When the dust settled and the teams retook the field, a rusty BC offense went three-and-out. Mike Knoll kicked his first career field goal from 22 yards out to put BC up, 24-14.
BC tacked on another touchdown from Murphy, from 26 yards out, in the fourth quarter to finish out the scoring. They held NC State to 16 plays in the entire third quarter and 13 in the fourth quarter and the offense whittled away at the clock. While BC had just the one score from Murphy in the fourth, they ate up the clock on a couple of occasions, including a 55-yard drive to the Wolfpack 26 yard line where they failed on a fourth down conversion.
Murphy finished with 132 yards on 15 carries with the two scores as BC ran for 310 yards. He threw for only 101 yards but went 12-for-19 and did not turn the ball over. Crimmins had one other catch to lead all BC receivers, and Sherm Alston finished with two receptions for 23 yards. Other BC rushers included Jon Hilliman, who added a yeoman's 83 yards on over 20 carries and a score; Alston averaged over 10 yards per carry with 53 yards on five carries and a score; Willis had 32 yards but carried eight times.
For NC State, Brissett went 14-for-30 but only finished with 174 yards after his initial outburst. Matt Dayes had 22 yards on six carries, and Shadrach Thornton had 16 yards on four carries. BC held NC State to only 217 total yards, with the Wolfpack averaging 1.7 yards per carry on the ground as a team. They also controlled the clock for over 38 minutes, and NC State finished 5-for-12 on third down conversions. After an initially rough first quarter, the Eagles dominated defensively, leading them to their fourth victory of the season.
NC State heads on the road next week when they play at Louisville, while BC returns home to Alumni Stadium to play Clemson.