The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

Nate Yarnell and Rodney Hammond lead Pitt over Boston College on Senior Night

Redshirt+sophomore+quarterback+Nate+Yarnell+%2819%29+runs+with+the+ball+during+the+game+against+Boston+College+in+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Thursday+night.
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nate Yarnell (19) runs with the ball during the game against Boston College in Acrisure Stadium on Thursday night.

Pitt football hasn’t had the best luck at the quarterback position this season. Between redshirt senior Phil Jurkovec and redshirt sophomore Christain Veilleux, the Panthers have struggled to find their signal caller in 2023.

But it seems the third time’s the charm for Pitt, as redshirt sophomore Nate Yarnell led the Panthers (3-8, 2-5 ACC) to a 24-16 win over Boston College (6-5, 3-4 ACC) on Thursday night at Acrisure Stadium in his first start in 2023. 

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was impressed with Yarnell’s composure in his first start of the season.

“[Yarnell] just takes care of the details,” Narduzzi said. “He’s calm and cool. That’s what you need for someone to manage it and take care of the football.”

Yarnell was impeccably accurate for the Panthers in the win, completing 57.8 percent of his passes and picking up 207 yards through the air. The Texas native also boasted one rushing and one passing touchdown. Yarnell said he was ready to get a chance to start all season.

“It’s my job,” Yarnell said about his previous backup role. “It doesn’t matter if I’m third, fourth [or] fifth string, I have to be ready to go in the game. All season, I made sure I was prepared for this moment. So when my name was called, I’d be ready.”

Pitt football players during the game against Boston College in Acrisure Stadium on Thursday night. (Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer)

Pitt junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. also had a big game against Boston College. The junior running back rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown. This included a game-clinching 66-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

“As a running back, once you get those carries and you get those good yards, you get hot and they are not going to stop you, no matter who you are,” Hammond said. “My offensive line, I trust them, and they get me hot.”

The Eagles opted to use short runs and passes on its first drive, moving the ball downfield while taking large chunks of time off the clock. Boston College also tried to exploit Pitt’s defense’s newfound weakness — run defense. The Eagles rushed the ball nine times on its first drive, picking up 38 yards.

The Panthers’ defense eventually put a stop to the Eagles’ long drive, holding Boston College on third down to force a field goal. But the Eagles were able to connect on the field goal attempt, taking an early 3-0 lead.

But Pitt’s offense was able to respond well — unlike in past games. Under the leadership of Yarnell, the Panthers slowly found their groove, picking up nice yardage with a mix of short runs and medium passes. The Panthers quickly tied the game at 3-3 on its next drive.

The Panthers once again found their groove on offense early into the second quarter. On second and ten on the 44-yard line, Yarnell quickly fired a pass to redshirt sophomore Daejon Reynolds for a 24-yard pick-up, putting the Panthers within striking distance.

Yarnell ultimately finished off the drive himself, lunging into the endzone for a four-yard rushing touchdown. The redshirt sophomore’s efforts put the Panthers up 10-3 with just over nine minutes remaining in the half. 

Pitt’s defense also continued to heat up in the second quarter. Senior defensive end Dayon Hayes, in particular, stepped up late in the quarter, recording two sacks in four plays with just over two minutes until halftime. 

Still, the Eagles offense kept pushing. Thanks to two passes for 60 yards, the Eagles found themselves in field goal position with just 29 seconds left in the half. Boston College successfully converted the field goal to cut Pitt’s lead to just four.

Pitt opted to bleed the clock out and enter the locker room holding the 10-6 lead. 

But Boston College made adjustments at halftime and came out of the locker room ready to retake the lead. The Eagles slowly moved down the field, picking up small chucks of yardage to get into striking distance. Boston College finished off the drive with a long play, as Eagles sophomore quarterback Thomas Castellanos connected with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Lewis Bond for a 24-yard touchdown. The Eagles now led 13-10 with nine minutes left in the third quarter. 

Both teams’ offenses began firing away in the second half. Pitt — which needed to rebound following the Eagles’ touchdown — wasted little time in driving down the field on its next drive. Yarnell completed two quick passes before finding redshirt senior wide receiver Bub Means for a 61-yard touchdown, allowing Pitt to take a 17-13 lead. 

Pitt then got a big break on Boston College’s next drive. On first and 10 in the red zone, Castellanos tried to force a pass into the endzone, but Pitt junior safety Phillip O’Brien Jr. intercepted it, giving the Panthers the ball on its own two-yard line. 

Thanks to a 40-yard rush from Hammond, Pitt found itself in good field position following the interception. But the Panthers just couldn’t capitalize, as Pitt’s drive stalled out, and redshirt junior Ben Sauls missed a 52-yard field goal attempt. 

Boston College did not give up as the fourth quarter winded down. The Eagles kept the pressure on Pitt by driving down the field and hitting a 33-yard field goal to cut the Panthers’ lead to just one.

But Pitt easily handled the pressure. With under five minutes left in the game, Hammond found a gap in Boston College’s defensive line, rushing 66-yard to give the Panthers an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter. 

The Panthers cruised into the 24-16 win following Hammond’s touchdown. Pitt will now look to finish out its season with another win, as it travels to Durham, North Carolina for its last game of the season against Duke on Saturday. 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor