BC’s Mixed Run Game Dominates UMass

Last year, Boston College fans grew accustomed to a certain level of consistency: Andre Williams rushing again and again, racking up a significant portion of the Eagles’ offense through his powerful run game.

On Saturday, observers of the BC-UMass game didn’t get what they were used to, though. With Williams suiting up in blue for the New York Giants this season, replacements needed to come along and fill his 2,000-plus-yard gap. While many expected sophomore Myles Willis to take the lead, Saturday’s game turned into a multi-part effort as Tyler Rouse, freshman Jon Hilliman, and transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy bolstered the Eagles to a 30-7 win.

The BC offense dominated the first half, though it didn’t immediately show on the scoreboard. While Alex Howell and Joey Launceford each posted a field goal, six points were all the Eagles had to show for their 276 yards of total offense on 45 plays—blowing UMass’ 84 yards and 24 plays out of the water.

On two occasions, the Eagles got in their own way and took costly holding and false-start penalties that pushed them back a total of 55 yards in the game.

“Thought our team played a strong, hard, pretty clean game … a couple early penalties cost us in the red zone,” said head coach Steve Addazio.

All of the numbers besides the most important ones—the score—were there. Willis had 11 carries for 63 yards in the first half and was followed closely by Rouse, who had nine carries for 57 yards. Eclipsing both was dual-threat Murphy, who had more yards on his feet than he did through the air in the first half—running for 92 yards on nine carries and passing for 65 yards on 15 attempts.

“I don’t want to get in the habit of just relying on my feet,” Murphy said. “I want to take what the defense gives me … if somebody’s open, take it … that’s something I want to do, but sometimes a gap opens up, it might be third and short, it could be a close throw, and I really just want to get that first down. I don’t want to rely on my feet, but if it’s there, coach always says don’t be afraid to take off and get the first down.”

While Willis and Rouse acted as workhorses, neither of them managed to break through coverage and put up longer runs—neither had a gain of more than 13 yards on one carry in the first half.

“We are a real strong, physical, kind of move-the-ball-down-the-field team,” Addazio said. “But I would like to see if we can create big yardage explosives.”

The Eagles entered the second half with a significant statistical advantage, and from there they cracked through UMass’ defenses and started putting real points on the board.

On their first drive of the half, the Eagles moved more efficiently downfield. Hilliman took his first carry for seven yards, and Rouse and Murphy provided steady gains, including a 19-yard pass completion to converted wide receiver Josh Bordner. After a pass interference call in the end zone put the Eagles on the 2-yard line, Willis took two handoffs for a yard each to score BC’s first touchdown of the season.

The Eagles would make it to the end zone on their next two possessions, settling for a field goal on their second to last possession of the game. The final statistics would show a shared load between Willis and Rouse, with 16 and 19 carries, respectively, for a total of 57 and 87 yards.

Ahead of both of them on the stat sheet was Murphy, who finished the game with 13 carries for 118 yards on the ground and one touchdown.

“We were extremely proud and excited about Tyler today,” Addazio said. “He managed the game like a veteran big-time player … he was strong, had a great look in his eye.”

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

About Marly Morgus 46 Articles
Marly Morgus was the Associate Sports Editor of The Heights in 2014. She's going to France and will only return to America if Grant Hedrick and Chase Rettig are given contracts in the Arena Football League.