Boston College wins overtime thriller over Pittsburgh

CHESTNUT HILL — Maybe the Kicking Gods needed to even things up a little in Saturday's game between Boston College and Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium.


After Pitt's Alex Kessman booted an extremely long fourth-quarter field goal to help send the game to overtime, he missed an extra point in that extra session to give BC a zany, 31-30 win.


The victory improves BC to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Pitt falls to 3-2, 2-2 in league play.


With its only loss by four points to a Univ. of North Carolina team that is ranked in the top 10, maybe we will see some more top 25 votes for a BC team that has some momentum heading into next week's trip to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech.


Wherever BC is ranked, there is no doubt that the Eagles should feel good about themselves, and also where they are headed under first-year coach Jeff Hafley, who seems to be making the right decisions week in and week out.


"I really love it here," Hafley said, "and I think our future is really, really bright."


It really does seem that way, and a big part of all those good feelings revolve around an offense that is getting better quarterback play than has been in Chestnut Hill in a long time. Phil Jurkovec had yet another stellar game, as the signal caller completed 19-of-35 passes for 358 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.


And while the air attack continues to show balance between tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs, there was a clear star of the show on Saturday in sophomore wideout Zay Flowers. He caught six passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Two of them came on deep posts for scores of 44 and 77 yards, and the third a 25-yarder for BC's overtime strike.


"He made the plays," Jurkovec said of Flowers. "He got open."


Flowers said the last overtime game he was in was his junior year of high school.


"We won that one, too," he said.


There were some low points, of course. BC was gave up seven penalties for 69 yards, some of which extended Pitt drives. And the Eagles still have not put together the type of running game they're known for, as they gained a net 30 yards on 41 attempts.


But all told, this is a football team that is off to a solid start. And if the Eagles can figure out how to run the ball a little better, maybe become a real threat to the powers that be in the ACC.


BC seemed to be in a good spot late in the third quarter with a 24-14 lead and the ball near midfield. But the Eagles went nowhere and punted the ball back to Pitt. The Panthers answered with an eight-play, 81-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard touchdown run by Vincent Davis.


It stayed 24-21 until the fourth quarter, when BC benefited from some strong special teams play. Punter Grant Carlson booted it deep, and the ball was downed at the Pitt 1-yard line.


The Panthers did not go very far, and BC defensive back Josh DeBerry made a diving interception at the Pitt 15-yard line to give the Eagles prime real estate in the red zone. However, a strip sack by Pitt's Rashad Weaver ended the threat.


The BC defense did not let it hurt, though, as a DeBerry PBU on a deep ball from Kenny Pickett on second down helped force a punt.


Still, BC could not take advantage, as a sack of Jurkovec helped the Panthers keep the Eagles from going anywhere.


Pitt took over on the BC side of the field at the Eagles' 45, but the Eagles' defense came up huge. Linebacker Max Richardson made a nice stop on a running play, and on fourth down, Brandon Sebastian came up with a pass breakup to turn the ball back over to the Eagles.


Again, though, BC's offense failed to close it out, and Pitt finally took advantage. Despite a sack by Richardson and Max Roberts that pushed the ball deep toward midfield, Kessman hit a 58-yard field goal to tie it.


On the strength of two completions to Hunter Long (six catches for 93 yards), BC moved into Pitt territory. But Aaron Boumerhi's 52-yard field goal was wide left and the game went into overtime.


BC did not waste much time on the first overtime possession. On the third play, Jurkovec did an excellent job of stepping up in the pocket and found Flowers over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown. Boumerhi's PAT made it 31-24, BC.


It appeared that Pitt was ready to tie it up after a 3-yard touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett to Taysir Mack. But, stunningly, Kessman's kick was wide right, and just like that, it was over.


"I just saw the reaction from the d-line," Richardson said of the miss, "and it was unbelievable."


"I was super shocked," Jurkovec said.


BC started the first quarter off on the right foot with a 12-play, 86-yard march on its first possession. The Eagles started it on their own 6-yard line, but quickly moved out from the shadow of their own goal line with a 26-yard completion from Jurkovec to Long. The scoring drive nearly went off the rails in the Pittsburgh red zone, as a David Bailey fumble and Pitt recovery was overturned via review. Boumerhi then booted a 25-yard field goal for the game's first points.


Pitt got a little help from BC to take the lead on the ensuing possession. The Panthers were about to punt from near midfield when BC was called for an offsides penalty. The 4th-and-8 went to a 4th-and-3 and Pitt picked up a first down on the next play. Pickett scored on a 1-yard sneak shortly after to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead.


Jurkovec went with the deep ball to give BC the lead again. Flowers got open on a post, and Jurkovec hit him beautifully in stride for a 44-yard touchdown pass that helped the Eagles take a 10-7 lead with 13:00 left in the half.


Penalties again hurt BC on the ensuing Pitt drive. The Eagles were called for back-to-back pass interference penalties to put the ball inside the BC red zone. Pickett made them hurt with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Israel Abanikanda as Pitt took a 14-10 lead with 10:35 to play in the half.


It was then BC's turn to take advantage of undisciplined play, as a roughing the passer extended the next Eagles drive. Jurkovec followed soon after with a 26-yard completion to Bailey up the seam. On fourth and goal from the 2, Jurkovec stretched the ball over the goal line as BC took a 17-14 lead with 4:50 to play in the second quarter.


It stayed that way until halftime, and when the Eagles came back from the break, they dialed up the long ball again. On a route that looked identical to their earlier hookup for a score, Jurkovec dropped a perfect ball into the hands of Flowers, who took it in on a 77-yard touchdown. Boumerhi's extra point made it 24-14, Eagles, with 14:26 to play in the third quarter.


Hafley said the deep ball was there based on how Pitt was defending the Eagles.


"It's what they were giving," Hafley said. "We had to take it, and we did."

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