Boston College slows down Pitt’s pass rush
Boston College found a way to diffuse Pitt’s pass rush, the element that made its defense special through most of the season.
The Eagles didn’t rely too heavily on their passing game while recording a 26-19 victory at Heinz Field.
Quarterback Dennis Grosel completed only 9 of 19 pass attempts for 123 yards and a touchdown to tight end Hunter Long.
It was definitely running back A.J. Dillon’s show for most of the game.
The nation’s No. 3 ground gainer (1,685 yards) — and a Heisman contender if Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi had a vote — carried 32 times for 178 yards. He refused to give the ball back to the Panthers after they inched to within seven points of the lead with 5 minutes, 26 seconds left. He carried eight times for 47 yards to run out the clock.
“We didn’t stop him like we should have,” senior middle linebacker Saleem Brightwell said.
Asked if Pitt’s defense was worn down by the 250-pound Dillon, Brightwell said, “A little bit. Not a lot.”
“If you’re in the game the whole time, you’re going to get fatigued a little bit. I’m not going to say we lost because of that.”
It was unusual for Pitt to allow so many yards on the ground (264). The Panthers came into the game allowing ACC teams an average of only 98.4 per game, tops in the conference.
Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, who entered with 10 sacks, shared Pitt’s only sack with Patrick Jones. Twyman said the most recent opponents — Virginia Tech and Boston College — “have been doing a really good job … of attacking us in certain ways that we haven’t really practiced.”
“But we’re going to try and get it right for this bowl game.”
Pitt totaled only four sacks in the past two games after averaging four per game for most of the season.
Getting their kicks in
Pitt handed Boston College six points in the game’s first 12 minutes. Wide receiver Jared Wayne and running back Vincent Davis, both freshmen, lost fumbles. With good field position at the BC 48 and Pitt 38, the Eagles only could convert their good fortune into 29- and 32-yard field goals by Aaron Boumerhi, who ended up with four.
Likewise, Pitt couldn’t handle prosperity. After moving inside the BC 10-yard line twice, the Panthers were forced to settle for 23- and 35-yard field goals by Alex Kessman, who also had four.
Kessman finished the regular season with 20 field goals in 28 attempts, including 16 of his last 18 tries. He led Pitt in scoring with 85 points.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .