PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Boston College gained bowl eligibility with a 26-19 win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles improved to 6-6 on the year, while the Panthers dropped to 7-5.
BC is now bowl eligible for the sixth time in seven seasons under head coach Steve Addazio.
Boston College was able to turn two forced turnovers into points in the first quarter. Vinny DePalma, making his first career start at middle linebacker, forced a fumble that led to a 29-yard Aaron Boumerhi field goal. Boumerhi also connected on a 32-yard attempt after defensive tackle Tanner Karafa recovered a fumble.
Pitt started the second quarter with the ball at the BC one-yard line but settled for its first field goal of the game. The Eagles opened up a 10-point lead in the second quarter when Dennis Grosel hit an open Hunter Long for a 25-yard touchdown pass. On the drive, Grosel picked up two third downs in the air and a fourth down on a quarterback sneak.
After getting within four points before halftime with a pair of field goals, Pittsburgh took its first lead of the day on a 39-yard run by Vincent Davis. The score was the Panthers’ only play of the drive and came out of the ‘wildcat’ formation with four receivers to the left.
The Eagles needed just three plays to answer as AJ Dillon rushed left 61 yards to the end zone to put BC up 20-16 on the 14th rushing touchdown for Dillon on the season.
BC abruptly ended a 69-yard drive by the Panthers with an interception by Jahmin Muse; the first of his career. His 36-yard return set up the Eagles third field goal off a turnover of the day as Boumerhi split the uprights from 30 yards out.
Holding a 23-16 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Boston College defense produced its fourth turnover of the game. Defensive end Brandon Barlow forced a fumble and Karafa fell on it for his second recovery of the game. The Eagles then converted their fourth field goal off a turnover as Boumerhi was good from 22 yards.
Leading 26-19 with 5:26 to play in the game, BC was able to hold on to the ball for the remainder of the game. Dillon carried the ball eight times on the drive and picked up four first down to push his total to 178 yards on 32 carries for the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Eagles struck first with field goals of 29 and 32 yards by Boumerhi; both off of Panther fumbles.
- BC scored the first touchdown of the half, a 25-yard Grosel to Long connection, to claim a 13-3 lead nearly five minutes into the second quarter.
- Pitt closed the gap to four points by halftime with a pair of field goals, including a 48-yarder by Alex Kessman as time expired.
- Dillon and the Eagles ended a 13-0 Pittsburgh run with a 61-yard touchdown run to give BC a 20-16 lead early in the third quarter.
- Boumerhi lifted the BC lead to 26-16 with back-to-back field goals off of turnovers late in the third and early in the fourth.
- Pitt leads the all-time series, 17-13. The game marked the first for BC in Pittsburgh since 2001.
- The BC defense posted a season-high four sacks after previously totaling three at Syracuse (11/2).
- BC is 6-1 when leading at halftime this season and 38-5 all-time under Addazio.
- Dillon’s 61-yard touchdown run was a season-long and put him over 100 yards in a game for the 20th time in his career.
- Boumerhi became the first BC kicker to make four field goals in a game since Nate Freese vs. Wake Forest in 2011.
- The Eagles await their bowl destination, which will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 8.