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James Conner runs for 213 yards and a TD, Pitt beats Boston College 30-20 in ACC opener

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BOSTON — Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy showed flashes of his dual-threat ability. The problem was he didn't do it often enough.

James Conner ran for 213 yards and a touchdown to lead Pittsburgh to a 30-20 victory over Boston College on Friday night in the first Atlantic Coast Conference matchup between the former Big East foes.

Two plays into BC's first offensive series, Murphy broke free for a 51-yard scamper down the left sideline, setting up Tyler Rouse's 1-yard touchdown run. Late in the quarter, Murphy's inability to hit consecutive wide open receivers after a turnover deep in Pittsburgh territory turned the game around.

"I made a decision on the turnover there," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "We came with two play-action plays and they were right calls, right on the money. We didn't connect on two wide open passes. We threw them and didn't get any points on that drive."

With BC up 7-3, the Eagles' Alex Howell missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.

The Panthers then marched 71 yards in nine plays, taking the lead. The Eagles never led again.

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.

"I hate to think about that, but if we get points on that drive it can be a different ballgame," Murphy said. "It just shows you have to be consistent."

In the second half, it was the same for the graduate transfer QB. He connected on 3 for 3 passes, capping a 75-yard drive with a 48-yard scoring toss to Shakim Phillips. After that, he missed on his next seven passes.

PHOTO: Boston College running back Myles Willis (23) returns a kick during during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Boston College running back Myles Willis (23) returns a kick during during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

"We've got to be better," Phillips said. "He didn't make a bunch of bad passes. It's not all on him."

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.

The 250-pound sophomore, who ran for 153 yards and four touchdowns against the Blue Hens last week, broke free for a 9-yard TD run against the Eagles that made it 27-7 in the third quarter and all-but put the game away.

After running for 338 yards against UMass in their first game since the graduation of Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams, the Eagles gained 142 on Friday. 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 the 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 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 Phillips, but could never get any closer until it was too late.

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