The game started ugly for the Eagles turning over the ball on downs on their first possession, then letting up a safety on their second possession when Jon Hilliman was tackled in the Eagles end zone, spotting the Chippewas a two-point lead.
However, the Eagles defense came to play forcing CMU three-and-out after linebacker Ty Schwab, and defensive tackle Wyatt Ray combined for a sack. That is when returner Mike Walker began to swing the game for the Eagles. The junior took the Chippewas punt 61 yards to set up the first of three Hilliman touchdowns, when he ran into the end zone from six yards out, giving BC the 7-2 lead.
After the Eagles defense forced another punt, Walker once again broke off a big return this time for 34 yards giving BC the ball at midfield. True – freshman A.J. Dillon then took advantage breaking off a 15-yard touchdown run, on his way to his first 100-yard collegiate game. Dillon would finish with 120 yards on 25 carries.
In the second quarter, the Chippewas looked like they were going to make it a competitive game when Kumehnnu Gwilly opened a drive with a 33-yard burst up the middle. Quarterback Shane Morris then connected with Jonathan Moore and Mark Chapman for 18 and 16 yards respectively setting up a Gwilly one-yard touchdown run. After a failed two-point conversion, the score stood at 14-8 and would be CMU’s final score of the afternoon with 10:24 remaining in the first half.
The two teams traded punts after the score. Eagles safety Lukas Dennis then intercepted a Morris pass which would be his first of two interceptions on the day, Hilliman would add his second rushing touchdown of the day to give the Eagles the 21-8 lead that would bring the game to halftime.
On their first drive of the third quarter, BC would end the scoring for the day. Quarterback Anthony Brown, who was playing banged up with a sore shoulder suffered during the loss to Clemson last week, found Hilliman along the goal line for the three-yard touchdown pass to give the game the final score of 28-8.
Hilliman would match Dillon’s impressive game with 23 carries for 89 yards and two rushing scores to go along with the touchdown catch. After the win BC head coach, Steve Addazio talked about the duo in the backfield.
“I think Jon (Hilliman) has really elevated his play, and I think A.J. (Dillon) continues to elevate his play, get more experience, and he’s getting more comfortable as we go. And so, the two of those — those two guys combining together, I think there’s a really nice kind of flow there right now.” Addazio said.
The Boston College defense also delivered its share of highlights holding the Chippewas to just 296 yards and a season-low 180 yards through the air. CMU entered the game averaging 306 passing yards per game. Dennis led the way with two interceptions to go along with six tackles. Defensive end Zack Allen had an interception, a sack, and seven tackles, two for loss. Fellow end Harold Landry continued to cause havoc in the backfield causing a sack, five tackles, and two for loss. Will Harris and John Lamont lead the team with ten tackles each. Lamont started for the first time at middle linebacker.
“You know, (Dennis) got like five picks, I think. Yeah, five picks on the year. He’s doing a great job. He’s another guy, he’s a first-year player. He’s never really played. He played a little bit, bits, and pieces, but he’s starting to gain some confidence, starting to gain some experience.” Addazio said of the junior safety who leads the nation in interceptions.
With impressive performances on both sides of the ball, it was the play of returner Walker which really changed the landscape of the game. He ran up 129 punt return yards the most for the team since 1970. Afterwards, the junior talked about how the team can take its performance from this week into the tough ACC slate that awaits it.
“Coach Addazio said, always just keep chopping. Got to attack every game — doesn’t matter who you’re playing, just got to attack it full force. Definitely, it helps with confidence. It was good to get that win today. Definitely, help us moving forward.”
The Eagles will continue to move forward next Saturday against Virginia Tech in an ACC Atlantic Division matchup, under the lights at 7:15 in Alumni Stadium.