BOSTON — The talented Southern California defensive line was no match for Boston College's running quarterback.
Boston College QB Tyler Murphy rushed for 191 yards, breaking free for a 66-yard touchdown with 3:30 to play on Saturday night as Boston College beat No. 9 Southern California 37-31 — the Eagles' first victory over a top 10 team in a decade.
A week after controlling then-No. 13 Stanford in a tough 13-10 road win, the Trojans were beaten badly on the defensive line and gave up 452 rushing yards. They had their most trouble stopping Murphy late in the game.
"Going into the game one of the things that was concerning was the quarterback running the ball," USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. "He's a heck of a player. We knew that. When you get momentum and start running the ball, it kind of feeds off itself. The quarterback started running the ball and got confidence. The running backs started getting confidence."
A week ago, the Trojans held Stanford to 128 rushing yards. On Saturday, they allowed three backs to each nearly each 100 yards.
"They outplayed us. They beat us in all three phases," Sarkisian said. "They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The end result was we didn't get it done. It starts with me coaching and goes to everyone in that locker room. We need to improve."
USC (2-1) was coming off its emotional victory over Stanford that moved the Trojans up five spots in The Associated Press Top 25. Cody Kessler completed 31 of 41 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns, but he was also sacked five times.
Kessler felt the Eagles' blitz packages gave his team trouble all night.
"They did a good job of getting to me," he said. "We missed some assignments up front and we should have made some better calls both offensively and by me."
So now USC has a week off before going back to Pac-12 play when the Trojans host Oregon State.
"Don't look too far into the season," USC safety Su'a Cravens said the team learned.
The Eagles had not beaten a top 10 team since a victory over 10th-ranked West Virginia in 2004. The last time an unranked BC team beat a top 10 team was a 2002 victory over No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend that cost the Irish a chance at the national championship.
Wearing uniforms decorated with red bandannas to honor Welles Crowther, a BC graduate who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 after helping usher others to safety, the Eagles delivered an emotional follow-up to a lackluster loss to Pittsburgh. Fans wearing their own red bandannas in tribute stormed the field after Murphy's final kneel-down, celebrating the biggest win in coach Steve Addazio's tenure and BC's first-ever over USC.
The Eagles trailed 17-6 in the second quarter before scoring 24 unanswered points.
Leading 27-17 with 12:22 to play, Murphy started the drive with back-to-back runs for a combined 52 yards and BC moved to the USC 5 yard-line. But the Eagles settled for a 25-yard field goal that — thanks to a missed extra point on their opening score — left them with a 13-point lead.
USC took over at its own 25 with 7:42 left and engineered a 10-play drive that finished with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to Nelson Agholor. Getting the ball at its 28 with 4:25 left, Murphy moved BC to the 34 before breaking through the line and streaking into the end zone.
Kessler led USC to another score, hitting Darreus Rogers from 14-yards out to make it a six-point game with 78 seconds left. Shakim Phillips covered the onside kick for BC, and Hilliman broke off a 22-yard run to help the Eagles milk the clock.
The Trojans gained their first advantage when punter Kris Albarado couldn't handle the snap but he recovered to launch a low line drive that rolled all the way to the BC 10-yard line. The Eagles couldn't move the ball before a punt that set USC up at the BC 38.
An 18-yard pass from Kessler to Randall Teifer moved the Trojans inside the 10, and two plays later Kessler hit George Farmer for an 8-yard score. The Eagles again went three-and-out before a punt that allowed USC to start at the BC 33; the field goal made it 10-0.
But what looked like the start of an expected rout never materialized.
On BC's next play, Willis broke free on a 52-yard run to the USC 26, and BC moved easily before Tyler Rouse ran it in from the 4 on the first play of the second quarter. The kick failed, leaving USC with a 10-6 lead, and the Trojans made it 17-6 with a 51-yard pass to Javorius Allen on a third-and-12.
Again BC responded, thanks to a 16-yard run by Murphy, and a 23-yarder before he was pushed out at the 3. Hilliman took it in from there to make it 17-13. It stayed that way until the Eagles took over at their own 46-yard line and Sherman Alston broke loose on the opening play of the drive for a 54 yard touchdown run that give the Eagles a 20-17 lead.
BC got the ball back and advanced to the Trojans' 30 but missed a field goal in the closing seconds of the quarter.