BOSTON -- If James Conner complained about getting tired, imagine how the Boston College defense felt after trying to tackle the Pittsburgh running back during his 35-carry, 213-yard performance Friday night.
A week after running for 153 yards and four touchdowns against Delaware of the FCS, Conner backed it up in the Panthers' Atlantic Coast Conference opener. The 250-pound sophomore accounted for more than half of Pitt's offense in a 30-20 victory over BC.
"I like when I keep getting my number called," said Conner, who had a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the game out of reach. "We wanted to send a message to the ACC. People wanted to see what I could do next, see if I can do it against a little better opponent."
Chad Voytik completed 10 of 21 passes for 111 yards, connecting with Tyler Boyd for two touchdowns. A week after rushing for 409 yards in a 62-0 victory over Delaware, the Panthers (2-0, 1-0) ran for 305 against the Eagles (1-1, 0-1) -- and Conner was again the star.
"He ran hard," Voytik said. "It's hard to get him down. He breaks tackles left and right. When you're running the ball so consistently, I don't know how many times we passed tonight, but who cares?"
Tyler Murphy completed 10 of 28 passes for 134 yards for BC, with a touchdown and two interceptions. The transfer quarterback also ran 15 times for 92 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run that, with the missed 2-point conversion, made it 30-20 with 43 seconds left.
BC recovered the onside kick, but Murphy's meaningless desperation pass was intercepted in the end zone with 6 seconds left.
"Real simple equation here, in my opinion: We couldn't stop the run on defense and couldn't establish the run on offense," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "We knew coming into this game that we had to stop the run, and we didn't do it. I knew (Conner) would be good. None of us had any illusions. He was going to run inside. He's a strong runner. He's a heck of a back. We had to tackle him."
BC knows a little about the power running game, riding 2,177 yards from Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams last season to its first bowl game in four years. In their opener last week against UMass, the Eagles ran for 338 yards.
But BC gained only 142 on the ground on Friday against Pitt. Murphy had 92 net yards, gaining 51 when he broke free on the opening drive and 51 on the final scoring drive, when the game was already out of reach. The top BC running back, Myles Willis, gained 14 yards on seven carries.
Conner ran three times for 17 yards on the opening drive before it stalled at the BC 31 and Pitt settled for a field goal. On BC's first possession, Murphy broke free on a keeper for 51 yards before he was pushed out at the 1 while diving for the pylon.
Originally ruled a touchdown, it didn't go on the board until one play later when Tyler Rouse went up the middle to make it 7-3.
It stayed that way until Pitt scored on a 71-yard drive early in the second. The Panthers got 41 yards on carries by Conner before Voytik connected with Boyd on a 15-yard jump ball in the end zone to give the Panthers a 10-7 lead.
It was 13-7 when BC drove to the Pitt 27 but then took a 3-yard loss and a penalty to fall out of field goal range. The punt went into the end zone and left Pitt with 1:15 left in the half.
Boyd ran for 19 yards and picked up another 15 on a horse-collar tackle, then Voytik led the Panthers to the 5 before hitting Boyd for the touchdown that made it 20-7 at the half.
Pittsburgh made it 27-7 thanks to a 41-yard pass to Boyd that set up Conner's 9-yard touchdown run. BC answered with a 48-yard pass to Shakim Phillips, but could never get any closer until it was too late.
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