Boston College upsets USC, 37-31
USC traveled to Boston College trying to avoid a letdown after a 13-10 victory at Stanford last week.
The rains stopped in Chestnut Hill before kickoff, but the soggy conditions put a damper on the performance of the ninth-ranked Trojans, who fell to the Eagles, 37-31.
Eagles quarterback Tyler Murphy put the game away on a 66-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes 30 seconds to play.
Murphy completed five of 13 passes for 54 yards with an interception. He rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown in 13 carries.
It is the fifth time in Boston College history the unranked Eagles have defeated a top-10 team.
USC’s offense struggled to develop a rhythm after scoring first.
Quarterback Cody Kessler found receiver George Farmer for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Andre Heidari, a hero after a game-winning 53-yard field goal at Stanford, kicked a 52-yarder later in the quarter to put the Trojans ahead, 10-0.
Boston College started to creep back into the game in the second quarter.
Eagles running back Tyler Rouse capped a 78-yard scoring drive with a four-yard touchdown run to make it a 10-6 game after the point-after kick was wide.
The Trojans answered on their ensuing possession.
Kessler completed a short pass to Javorius “Buck” Allen, who sprinted for a 51-yard score to give the Trojans a 17-6 lead.
Allen caught nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 31 yards in 15 carries.
But Boston College scored 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to take a commanding 30-17 lead.
USC was able to make it a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter, when Kessler found receiver Nelson Agholor on a two-yard touchdown pass to cut the Trojans’ deficit to six, 30-24.
But the Eagles weren’t going to let the upset slip away.
Murphy broke free on his 66-yard run on the ensuing possession, to regain a two-score lead and put the game out of reach, 38-24.
Kessler completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Darreus Rogers, but USC still trailed by six with 1:18 left.
It was Rogers’ first catch since the opener against Fresno State.
The Trojans attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by the Eagles, who ran out the clock.
USC’s up-tempo offense was unable to develop its running game and a balanced attack.
They were held to 20 yards rushing in 29 carries.
Kessler completed 31 of 41 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns.
USC falls to 2-1 on the season, and is 1-0 in the Pac-12 Conference. Boston College is 2-1 overall, and 0-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Boston College 37, USC 31 (Final)
Andre Heidari attempts the onside kick for USC, but Boston College recovers it.
Boston College will stay on the ground to run the clock down and then take the victory formation.
It’s just the fifth time in school history that an unranked BC team has defeated a top-10 team.
Boston College 37, USC 31 (1:18 left in the fourth quarter)
USC starts on their own 35-yard line.
The Trojans have a long way to go down field, but they’ve yet to really look down field for a big play.
This is offense is designed for perimeter passes, but if you’re down two scores with time ticking away, isn’t it time to stop dumping the ball to the sideline?
Quarterback Cody Kessler is facing a third and nine. He’s able to dump the ball off to Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen who makes it past the first down marker.
There’s a Darreus Rogers sighting, who makes his first catch since the opener against Fresno State -- and it’s a USC touchdown.
Boston College 37, USC 24 (3:30 left in the fourth quarter)
USC’s defense is jumping around on the sideline before taking the field, trying to create energy.
Boston College will start on their own 28.
Second down and quarterback Tyler Murphy breaks for a 66-yard touchdown run. He has done it all for the Eagles.
BC went for a two-point conversion, it’s good, until a penalty calls it back.
The Eagles kick the PAT.
Crazier things have happened in college football, but this isn’t looking good for USC with 3:30 to play.
Boston College 30, USC 24 (4:32 left in the fourth quarter)
USC starts on their own 25-yard line.
The Trojans have only run the ball for four yards (I promise you, this is not a typo. Fourth quarter, only four yards rushing).
Quarterback Cody Kessler is relying on freshman JuJu Smith to come up with some crucial fourth-quarter catches, and Smith is delivering.
Kessler finds Nelson Agholor at the end of the drive for a two-yard touchdown.
There were ten plays in that drive, only one was a run. Why didn’t the Trojans start passing sooner?
This is a ballgame with under five minutes to play.
Boston College 30, USC 17 (7:42 left in the fourth quarter)
A reader asked this week when USC Coach Steve Sarkisian’s honeymoon period would be over. I predicted it would happen when he suffered his first loss, but I didn’t think it would be against Boston College.
BC will start from their own 28-yard line.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy is showing his athleticism, breaking for a 26-yard and then a 25-yard carry.
The Eagles are committed to running the ball -- they did it eight straight times on this drive before settling for a 25-yard field goal.
USC linebacker Hayes Pullard is the only defender who looks fresh for the Trojans.
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian must read the live in-game blog.
Quarterback Cody Kessler isn’t looking to hand off, anymore.
He makes two quick completions to Nelson Agholor, who has been ineffective through the first three quarters.
Center Max Tuerk is called for his second penalty of the game. He tried to make up lost ground on his block as his man ran by to sack Kessler.
Kris Albarado punts again.
Kessler has completed 16 of 23 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Boston College starts on its own 32-yard line.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy is unable to get anything going on this drive, giving USC’s defense a reprieve.
BC punts. Nelson Agholor fields it and is taken down for a two-yard loss.
Nothing that happens on the ground is going in USC’s direction.
The offense will come back on the field. At what point does USC Coach Steve Sarkisian decide to abandon the run? It’s gone nowhere.
USC starts from their own 22-yard line.
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian is going to live and die by the run. Kessler hands off to Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen who is taken down for another loss.
JuJu Smith catches a 12-yard pass for a first down.
But USC goes right back to the run the next two plays -- and then -- a young offensive line moves early and the flags come out.
It’s a false start by Viane Talamaivao, which sets up a third and nine.
Tight end Randall Telfer can’t hold his block, and Kessler is sacked.
USC will punt.
At what point does USC’s up-tempo offense slow down? The up-tempo three and outs can’t be good for the Trojans’ defense.
USC is finally able to force a three and out of their own.
It’s getting late in the third quarter.
Kick off return is struggling a bit for USC. JuJu Smith bobbles the kick off and is taken down inside the ten.
USC starts on its own nine-yard line.
Quarterback Cody Kessler has become visibly frustrated as tailback Justin Davis is taken down for a loss.
Kessler is sacked on third and nine. A young offensive line is starting to break down.
Boston College 27, USC 17 (7:06 left in the third quarter)
The Trojans haven’t been able to run the football, but Boston College sure has.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy rushed for 21 yards, before handing off for four straight plays.
John Hilliman capped the BC drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
USC will start from their own 10-yard line.
Here’s the thing about up-tempo, as quickly as you find yourself running down the field, you also find yourself running off the field.
USC’s defense isn’t going to catch its breath.
Another three and out for the Trojans, as quarterback Cody Kessler scrambles and goes down.
Boston College will start with the ball from their own 27-yard line in the third quarter.
USC linebacker Hayes Pullard is in the game for the Trojans after serving a first-half suspension in the locker room.
Leonard Williams makes a tackle for the Trojans. An ideal game scenario would have had USC with a large enough lead to get Williams out of the game. But don’t forget, the Trojans will have a bye week, so there should be ample recovery time before Pac-12 play starts again.
Linebacker Scott Felix tackled quarterback Tyler Murphy on third and six, but Felix actually tackled him from behind, forcing Murphy to fall forward into a first down.
Pullard comes up big for the Trojans on third and eight, knocking down a Murphy pass that would’ve been close to a first down.
BC will punt.
A few halftime stats:
- USC hasn’t been able to get anything going on the ground. They’ve rushed for 24 yards in 17 carries.
- They are just three of nine on third down conversions.
- Seven skill players have caught a pass for the Trojans, but Nelson Agholor has just three catches for three yards and Adoree’ Jackson has one catch for minus-four yards.
Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy completes a 14-yard pass to move Boston College inside USC’s 40-yard line.
Alex Howell attempts a 47-yard field goal, it’s no good.
Freshman JuJu Smith fielded the kick off, but slipped on the turf. He limped off the field.
USC will start on its own 21-yard line.
Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen takes a handoff, but center Max Tuerk is called for a rare holding penalty.
That’s USC’s first penalty of the game. They had ten a week ago at Stanford.
Another third and long for the Trojans. Quarterback Cody Kessler hands off to Allen, who is stopped far short of the first down.
USC is two of nine on third down conversions.
Kris Albarado will punt the ball for the sixth time.
Boston College 20, USC 17 (1:27 left in the second quarter)
Boston College starts at its own 46-yard line.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy hands off to Sherman Alston on the reverse and he is gone 54 yards for a touchdown. USC’s defense was caught on its heels.
The PAT is good.
Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy has to be getting frustrated with his receivers, another dropped pass that hits a receiver in the hands.
The very next play, USC cornerback Chris Hawkins intercepts Murphy. Murphy threw into double coverage between Hawkins and Adoree’ Jackson.
USC takes over on their own 31-yard line.
The Trojans are staying with the run game, but isn’t going far. Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen is dropped for a loss.
Quarterback Cody Kessler is stopped on third down and the Trojans will punt.
USC has rushed for 6 yards in 14 carries.
USC will start on their own 18-yard line.
Quarterback Cody Kessler fires deep for Nelson Agholor, but it falls incomplete. Agholor has caught three passes for three yards.
Another punt for the Trojans after a three and out.
Boston College is starting on their own 24-yard line.
Both offenses establishing a pattern here: either a scoring drive or a three and out.
BC punts the ball, again.
Here’s a quick stat update: USC quarteback Cody Kessler has completed 10 of 14 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
At Stanford, Kessler was 15 of 22 for 135 yards in the game.
USC’s Adoree’ Jackson drops the kick off, is able to pick it up, but only able to return the ball three yards -- compared to his 51-yard return last time out.
The Trojans will start on their own 10-yard line.
There are communication problems for USC’s offensive line, right tackle Zach Banner ran onto the field with the play clock ticking down. Tailback Justin Davis runs the play right behind Banner.
Another three and out for the Trojans as Nelson Agholor catches a pass but is tackled short of the first down.
Kris Albarado with a big punt for USC.
USC 17, Boston College 13 (10:08 left in the second quarter)
Watching the replay of the touchdown, great blocking down field by freshman offensive guard Viane Talamaivao that enabled Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen to make it into the end zone untouched.
Boston College will start the drive at their own 25-yard line.
Tyler Murphy completes a pass down field to Shakim Phillips for a first down at the USC 31-yard line.
Murphy faked a handoff and kept the ball -- cornerback Kevon Seymour was juked left and right -- Murphy was eventually taken down inside the ten.
Murphy pitches to John Hilliman who runs right through safety Su’a Cravens and dives on the pylon for a Boston College touchdown.
This time, the PAT is good.
USC’s secondary missed a couple of critical tackles on that drive.
USC 17, Boston College 6 (14:08 left it the second quarter)
Adoree’ Jackson fields the kick off at the goal line and returns it 51 yards. Great field position for quarteback Cody Kessler to start the drive.
USC in a quick third down situation and Kessler is able to to throw a screen pass to Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen who goes 51 yards for a touchdown.
Heidari’s PAT is good.
USC 10, Boston College 6 (14:56 left in the second quarter)
BC running back Myles Willis broke for a 52-yard carry, all the way to the Trojans’ 26-yard line.
The Eagles are inside the red zone for the first time.
Isn’t this how it always works? After saying that USC’s front seven was off to a good start, BC is finding success running the ball straight up the middle.
Celebrity spotting on the USC sideline, it’s Will Ferrell.
That’s the end of the first quarter.
BC quarterback Tyler Murphy pitches to Tyler Rouse for a three-yard touchdown.
The PAT flies wide left.
USC 10, Boston College 0 (3:10 left in the first quarter)
USC’s offense is not finding much of a rhythm in its first four offensive series.
Quarterback Cody Kessler is unable to move the ball beyond a few yards, but the Trojans started with good field position.
Andre Heidari kicked a 52-yard field goal.
USC got away with a penalty on that touchdown. The television replay is showing offensive lineman Damien Mama blocking a linebacker beyond the three-yard limit before the quarterback releases the ball.
Mama got an earful on the sideline. But nevertheless, the officials did not see it, so the play stands.
Boston College is quickly forced to punt again. J.R. Tavai makes his first sack of the night.
The Eagles will punt for the third time.
USC 7, Boston College 0 (6:05 left in the first quarter)
USC receiver Nelson Agholor catches his first pass of the game in the Trojans’ third offensive series. JuJu Smith catches the next ball.
The Trojans already with four players who have caught passes. That equals the same number of players who caught a ball in the entire game at Stanford last week.
Quarterback Cody Kessler is spreading the ball around well on this series. Tight end Randall Telfer makes a reception and the Trojans have first and goal.
The rain has stopped, but the turf remains wet. Tailback Justin Davis couldn’t find his footing as he tried to cut and slipped to the ground.
Kessler finds George Farmer for an easy 8-yard touchdown reception.
Andre Heidari kicks the point-after-touchdown.
The scoring drive: 38 yards, six plays
USC’s front seven with a nice start tonight. Another three and out for Boston College. The Eagles had an easy first down, but a dropped pass brings out their punter for the second time tonight.
USC freshman tight end Bryce Dixon catches his first pass of the night - it is a first down for the Trojans. Dixon did not catch a pass at Stanford.
The next play, tailback Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen catches a pass out of the backfield for another first down.
USC unable to convert on third down. A couple misfires so far by quarterback Cody Kessler -- missing high on a couple throws.
Disaster averted by punter Kris Albarado, who dropped the snap and somehow managed to still get the punt off.
USC’s defense answered with a three and out of its own.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard won’t be available to play until the second half as he serves a suspension for a targeting penalty at Stanford. Sophomore Michael Hutchings started in his place at middle linebacker.
Also, keep an eye on Leonard Williams. He continued to recover this week from the sprained ankle he played on at Stanford. It seems likely that if the Trojans are able to build a lead that Coach Steve Sarkisian would pull Williams to help that recovery.
Freshman Adoree’ Jackson returned the opening kick off for the Trojans. It will be interesting to see tonight how much Jackson is used in all three phases of the game.
USC goes nowhere on its first offensive possession of the game. It’s a three and out for the Trojans.
The rain soaked turf looks a bit slippery.
USC legends Marcus Allen and Rodney Peete are at Alumni Stadium -- getting rained on -- with no raincoats, to watch the Trojans.
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian said before leaving for Boston that the trip to the East Coast would be good for the program, not only from a recruiting stance, but also because of the school’s alumni presence out east.
USC announced its starting lineups.
The offense: quarterback Cody Kessler, fullback Soma Vainuku, tailback Javorius Allen, tight end Randall Telfer, receivers Nelson Agholor, JuJu Smith and George Farmer and offensive linemen Chad Wheeler, Toa Lobendahn, Max Tuerk, Damien Mama and Zach Banner.
The defense: defensive linemen Leonard Williams, Antwaun Woods and Claude Pelon, linebackers Scott Felix, Anthony Sarao, Michael Hutchings and J.R. Tavai, cornerbacks Chris Hawkins and Kevon Seymour, and safeties Su’a Cravens, Gerald Bowman and Leon McQuay.
It’s about 60 minutes before USC and Boston College kick off here at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Columnist Bill Plaschke and I engaged in a Q & A before last week’s game at Stanford, but with Plaschke on site in Texas to watch UCLA play Texas, I’m working solo.
It’s been raining for about an hour.
For Boston College, a 17-point underdog, that’s probably a welcome turn. An equalizer of sorts.
The Trojans played their first two games at the Coliseum and Stanford Stadium. Both have grass fields.
Alumni Stadium’s field is an artificial surface.
The Trojans showed in the opener that they can spread the ball around in the passing game. Against Stanford, Coach Steve Sarkisian put the ball in the hands of tailback Javorius Allen.
Allen rushed for a career-best 154 yards in USC’s victory. But the junior also has fumbled twice.
He lost a fumble against Fresno State. Against Stanford, the ball was knocked out of his hands but it was recovered by lineman Zach Banner.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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