“It is great to be sitting here and being bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years, and we had a hard-fought game against a good UConn team,” said BC head coach Steve Addazio. “We played sloppy early on both sides of the ball and then I thought we anchored ourselves back down again. We had a pretty good day.”
In front of a crowd of 20,133, true-freshman running back AJ Dillon led Boston College with another dominant rushing performance. Playing against the school from his home state the Connecticut native rushed for 200 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. It was Dillon’s second 200-yard game in his short 11 game career with the Eagles.
“He’s a 200-yard runner. If we can feed him the ball and do a good job blocking for him up front, I think we’re going to be able to run the football,” Addazio said of Dillon’s ability.
UCONN opened up the scoring on the first drive of the game. Junior quarterback David Pindell navigated the Huskies 61 yards on nine plays that resulted in a 50-yard field goal by Michael Tarbutt. The highlight of the drive came on Pindell’s 50-yard pass to wide receiver Arkeel Newsome.
A steady rain would pick up, and the play would become messy in the first-quarter. Each team would miss field goal attempts and trade punts. In the second-quarter, Boston College quarterback Darius Wade, who made his first start since 2015 filling in for Anthony Brown who is done for the season with a right-leg injury, led the offense on a 12-play 70-yard drive. Wade connected with tight end Tommy Sweeney on a 38-yard pass to move the Eagles into to UCONN territory and then found wide receiver Chris Garrison in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown putting BC ahead for good 7-3 with 6:13 left in the opening half. The touchdown pass was Wade’s first of the season
After both teams went 3-and-out, Dillon broke free for a 53-yard score in which he carried many Huskies on his back into the end zone. Boston College headed into halftime with a 14-3 lead.
“That started to kick in once I started to get more towards the end zone. I go out there every offensive play and try to get in the end zone, so I did whatever I could to try to get in,” said Dillon on his mindset with defenders on his back.
To open up the second-half, Dillon carried the ball on four straight plays gaining 22 yards and moving the Eagles on to UCONN’s side of the field. Junior running back John Hilliman then came in and finished the drive off with a 38-yard touchdown run making it a 21-3 game just two minutes into the third-quarter.
UConn aimed to respond moving down the field quickly. Pindell, however, would throw an ill-fated pass into the hands of BC defensive back Taj-Amir Torres who promptly found an opening for a 65-yard touchdown return. Giving the Eagles a commanding 27-3 lead after a missed PAT.
The Huskies were the verge of scoring midway through the third-quarter. However, BC defensive back Lukas Denis had other plans and added to his team lead in interceptions, picking off his sixth pass of the season and returning 56 yards into UCONN territory.
Dillon tallied his second touchdown of the game on the ensuing drive with a 20-yard scamper once again bringing UCONN defenders into the end zone with him. After another missed PAT, the Eagles took a 33-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
Midway through the final frame, Hilliman added his second touchdown for the Eagles on a 3-yard plunge the making it 39-3 after once again another missed PAT attempt. Hilliman added 107 yards on the night to give Boston College 330 rushing yards on the night.
Despite allowing two late UCONN touchdowns, one a 70-yard run by Massachusetts native Kevin Mensah, the Boston College defense caused many issues for the Huskies. Coming into the game BC had problems containing dual-threat quarterbacks on the ground. However, the Eagles limited Pindell to just 44 yards rushing.
Defensive end Zach Allen led BC with 11 tackles and 1.5 for loss. Defensive tackle Noa Merritt had a career-high two sacks, and a forced a fumble. Linebackers Ty Schwabb and John Lamot had nine and 10 tackles respectively.
“(Pindell) is a great athlete and a great quarterback. He makes great decisions. If you watch that UCF film, he is doing some really special things. UConn is a great program so we really gave them the respect they deserve. Luckily, we were able to stop them and get to a bowl game,” Allen said of preparing for Pindell and his ability run-and-pass.
Dillon’s productive evening has put his freshman season into historic categories. With 1,239 rushing yards on the season Dillon is now fourth all-time for single-season among ACC freshman and 10th all-time in the BC single-season record books, he talked after the game on what it means to him.
“I’m not going to say that it doesn’t mean anything. I have respect for all of the guys on top ACC list. I don’t have a goal in mind going into each game. I just try to help out the team however I can. It is a good feeling to know the work that I’ve been putting in and the team has been putting in, is coming together.”
Boston College travels to Syracuse next Saturday, Nov., 25, to take on the Orange looking to finish with a .500 winning percentage in the ACC for the first time since 2014.