On the first possession of the game, the Pitt offense faced a 3rd and 9 from its own 26 yard line. As Boston College DC Don Brown is known to do, he threw the kitchen sink at Pitt QB Chad Voytik. Voytik scrambled, managed to escape the swarming BC defense and reeled off a 23-yard run to extend the drive. While a bit demoralizing, the play seemed harmless enough at the time. The Boston College defense even recovered to force a stop and hold Pitt to a 49-yard Chris Blewitt field goal.
But as the game went on, that one play seemed more and more emblematic of how BC would fare on Friday night in its ACC opener. A virtually nonexistent passing game, tons of missed tackles (oh, the missed tackles), untimely penalties, questionable replay reviews and a porous defense all contributed to a 30-20 loss on Friday night.
Basically, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
The Boston College offense had an impressive first drive and answer to the opening Pitt salvo. On second and 7, Tyler Murphy turned a zone read into a 51-yard gain on the ground, taking the ball down to the Pitt 1-yard line. The play was initially ruled a touchdown but was later called back to the 1-yard line after replay showed that BC's dual-threat QB didn't get in. Sophomore RB Tyler Rouse found paydirt on the following play, giving BC a 7-3 lead less than four minutes into the contest.
And ... that's just about everything that went right for Boston College in the first half. The offense stalled after that (66 yards on the first 3 plays, 61 yards the last 24), and the gassed D missed one tackle after another on the ensuing Pitt offensive drives. BC's defense had no answer for Pitt RB James Conner (15 carries, 130 yards) and WR Tyler Boyd (4 rec, 31 yards, 2 TD) as Pitt went on three second quarter scoring drives of 71, 42, and 80! yards to take a commanding 20-7 lead into the locker room.
BC managed a first down on their first drive of the second half, but on 3rd and 12, Murphy threw to Dan Crimmins, but managed to tip the ball right to Pitt DB Ray Vinopal who came down with the easy INT. Ballgame, basically.
To add injury to insult, on the next Pitt offensive possession, BC co-captain and senior LB Sean Duggan came off the field and collapsed on the sideline after suffering a left knee injury. He did not return and was seen on the sidelines on crutches.
Midway through the third quarter, on 3rd and 10 from BC's own 32, Murphy hit Bobby Wolford for a 19-yard completion to move the chains. Wolford's haul was ruled a catch on the field, but later reversed after refs thought Wolford's knee was out-of-bounds at the time of the catch. There probably wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call on the field, but #goacc gonna #goacc. The reversed call killed both BC's drive and any hope of an Eagles comeback.
After a James Conner rushing TD put Pitt up 27-7, the Boston College offense answered quickly with a 48-yard pitch-and-catch from Murphy to Shakim Phillips for a touchdown in a drive that took less than 2 minutes of clock. 27-14 Pitt.
The Boston College defense forced a stop on the next Pitt possession. On the following drive, Murphy, facing a 3rd and 4 from BC's own 29, had a Bordner wide open for the backward pass-forward pass trickeration type deal, but woefully under threw Bordner, who had to scoop up the ball and take the 12-yard loss. It was the second play of the game where Murphy was set up for an easy TD only to miss his target by a wide margin.
It ultimately didn't matter, but the Eagles made a show of things late in the fourth quarter. Down 30-14, Murphy engineered a 9 play, 64 yard drive in just 1:12 that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. An Alex Howell onside kick was recovered by BC, but the Eagles couldn't do anything with their final drive of the game. Ballgame, 30-20.
Overall, BC was more or less outmatched and outclassed in this one. As the game wore on, it became pretty clear the impact that having an extra year in the rebuilding effort can have on a ballgame. The Eagles defense had no answer for Conner, who turned in his best Andre Williams impersonation to the tune of 214 yards and a score on 36 carries. Pitt star WR Tyler Boyd also had a big night, finishing with 5 catches for 71 yards and 2 TDs, and Chris Blewitt (best name) was money in the kicking game, connecting on field goals from 49, 42 and 41 yards.
Murphy turned in a poor performance, finishing just 10-of-28, 134 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT passing and 104 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries rushing. Much of those positive yards were gained in garbage time with the game well in hand. With nothing working in the passing game, the Eagles ground attack wasn't effective either. Murphy was again the team's leading rusher with 104 yards. No other back cracked the 20-yard mark.
Eagles fans can't be feeling too good about this team turning in a dud of a performance in the home opener under the Friday night lights. Lots of lingering questions on both sides of the ball, and not a whole lot of time to correct them before a ranked USC outfit comes to the Heights next Saturday.
Now let's all needlessly freak out and overreact in the comments section below.