It’s not often that the kicker, who makes a 58-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, is not considered a hero. It’s even rarer for him to be considered the villain. That was exactly the case on Saturday night, when Pittsburgh kicker Alex Kessman missed the game-tying extra point in overtime, sealing a 31-30 victory for Boston College.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett was leading the ACC in total passing yards. He started strong in the first quarter, throwing for 81 yards, a touchdown, and completing over 75% of his passes.
For the rest of the game, however, the Eagles were able to close the gaps in their coverage. He finished the game completing just over half of his passes and throwing an interception along the way.
Within the first minute of the second half, Phil Jurkovec was able to connect with Zay Flowers for a 77-yard touchdown to take a 24-14 lead. This was the second of Flowers’ three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. All of Flowers’ touchdowns were at least 25 yards, potentially marking him as the speedy deep threat that BC often lacked during former head coach Steve Addazio’s tenure.
After the touchdown, Pittsburgh made adjustments to put more pressure on Jurkovec. The Eagles’ offensive line struggled to hold back the Pittsburgh pass rush and allowed five sacks.
Jurkovec was left scrambling out of the pocket for most of the second half. BC didn’t score another point in regulation, allowing Pittsburgh to score 10 unanswered points in the second half. Despite the scoring drought, Jurkovec, a Pittsburgh-native, had a career-high night. He threw for 358 yards and racked up four total touchdowns.
Outside of their pass-rushing, the Panthers’ defensive line put on a show against BC’s run game as well. They came into the game as the top-ranked run defense in the country, and they showed exactly why. On 41 attempts, BC was able to pick up only 30 yards on the ground.
This marks a stark contrast from recent years, when the team’s offensive success was based almost solely on its ability to run the ball. On the opposite side of the field, BC’s defense was also effective against the run, holding Pittsburgh to under three yards per attempt.
The biggest flaw in its defense was penalties and mental mistakes. BC made third and fourth down stops, only to have its play negated by a pass interference or offsides, on multiple occasions. These mistakes usually are insurmountable, so the Eagles need to be more disciplined if they want to continue to be competitive in the ACC this year.
The real unsung hero of the game was BC punter Grant Carlson. When BC’s offense faltered, Carlson was consistently able to give Pittsburgh poor field position, once pinning them on their own one-yard line. Head coach Jeff Hafley talked about the importance of Carlson’s performance in the win postgame, saying that he doesn’t believe BC could have won without him.
The Eagles improved to 2-1 in conference play with the win, good for sixth place in the ACC. The Panthers fell to 2-2 in the conference, with the toughest part of their schedule yet to come. Four of their next six games will be played against teams ranked in the top 20, with three of those teams ranked in the top 10.
The Eagles will travel to No. 19 Virginia Tech next week. The Hokies lost to No. 8 UNC this week in a 56-45 shootout but were missing 15 players. If they are healthy next week, they present a challenging matchup for the Eagles.
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