Sunday, September 14, 2014

Boston College Upsets No. 9 Southern California

The Boston College football team upset ninth-ranked Southern California with a 37-31 victory on Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. It marked the first time in 10 years the Eagles beat a top-10 team and the first time BC beat USC in five meetings.

The Eagles (2-1) handed the Trojans (2-1) their first loss of the season, giving up just 20 rushing yards after allowing 303 to Pittsburgh the week before. BC picked up 452 yards on the ground and 506 overall, collecting over 500 offensive yards for the second time in 2014. The Eagles tallied five rushing touchdown on the evening, matching the same total Andre Williams put up in the 48-27 victory over Army on Oct. 5, 2013.

Graduate quarterback Tyler Murphy rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season, racking up a career-high 191 yards on 13 carries. He rushed for a career-long 66-yarder - the longest run of the season - in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown to put the Eagles up, 37-24.

Freshman running back Jon Hilliman scored two touchdowns, tallying 89 yards on 19 carries in a career night. The last time a BC true freshman notched two TD runs was in 2008 when Montel Harris scored three against Rhode Island.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler was 31-for-41 with 317 passing yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked five times by the BC defense. Senior linebacker Josh Keyes had eight tackles, including 5.5 for loss and a sack.

The Trojans jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. On the sixth drive of the game, Kessler completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to George Farmer with 6:05 left in the frame to cap off a six-play, 38-yard drive that lasted two minutes.

The Eagles were forced to punt on their next possession after J.R. Travai sacked Murphy and USC started its drive at the Boston College 33-yard line. After the BC defense stopped the Trojans, Andre Heidari connected on a 52-yard field goal.

BC got on the board at the start of the second quarter. Sophomore running back Myles Willis started things off with a 52-yard run and Hilliman went to work, carrying it three times for 12 yards after Murphy run twice for 10 yards. Murphy pitched it to sophomore running back Tyler Rouse, whose four-yard run into the end zone made it 10-6.

USC's Javouris Allen came right back at the Eagles as Kessler connected with the wide receiver for a 51-yard score on a three-play drive that lasted just 48 seconds.

The Eagles cut the lead to four again four minutes later. Hilliman scored his first career touchdown on a three-run yard. Murphy completed runs of 16 yards and 23 yards to go along with a 17-yard pass to graduate wide receiver Shakim Phillips to set up the run for the true freshman running back with 10 minutes to play in the half.

BC pulled ahead on one play before the half ended as freshman Sherman Alston took off and ran 54 yards for a score, putting the Eagles up, 20-17.

Hilliman notched his second rushing TD of the night with just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter to put the Eagles up by 10. The BC defense forced a three-and-out and senior defensive end Brian Mihalik sacked Kessler for a loss of six yards on third down to force a punt. Alston returned it 22 yards and setting up four straight runs for the Eagles, including a 21-yard rush by Murphy. After a nine-yard run, Hilliman finished the five-play, 41-yard drive with a one-yard score.

In the fourth, senior kicker Joey Launceford connected on a 25-yard field goal with just under eight to play to make it a 30-17 BC lead. USC marched down the field and scored in 3:30 on a 10-play, 75-yard drive with 4:32 to go in the game to make it a six-point game on a 10-yard TD catch by Nelson Agholor.

In the next series, Murphy took off for his 66-yard score on the second play of the drive to put the Eagles up by seven.

The Trojans took two minutes to score on a 14-yard pass from Kessler to Darreus Rogers, ending a nine-play, 65-yard drive. With 1:18 left in the game, USC attempted an on-sides kick, but the Eagles recovered and we able to run out the clock for the victory.

The Eagles had lost the last 12 meetings against top-25 teams before the victory over the Trojans. The last win came on Nov. 15, 2008 when BC topped No. 20 Florida State, 27-17. The last time the Eagles defeated a top-10 team was on Nov. 13, 2004 when they took down 10th-ranked West Virginia in Morgantown ranked No. 21. In 2002, the unranked Eagles defeated No. 4 Notre Dame, 14-7, in South Bend.

On Service Day, the Eagles wore red bandanna accessories to honor former Boston College lacrosse player Welles Crowther '99, who lost his life saving at least a dozen people in the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. Crowther shielded his face from the dust and smoke with a red bandanna that he carried with him.

The Eagles return to action when they host Maine at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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