Boston College’s Khari Johnson ejected after vicious hit against Pittsburgh

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College football is filled with many traditions – from the Jeweled Shillelagh to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. There is nothing like what the sport brings each fall and winter.

However, another tradition that has risen over the last few years is fans debating targeting calls on social media. A targeting penalty in college football is called when a player makes forcible contact against an opponent that goes beyond a normal tackle, block or going after the ball. A lot of the time it is called when a player makes helmet-to-helmet contact. A penalty also leads to an ejection.

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Khari Johnson leads with the helmet

Khari Johnson, #3 of the Boston College Eagles, is called for targeting on a pass intended for Malcolm Epps, #7 of the Pittsburgh Panthers, in the first half during the game at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 16, 2023 in Pittsburgh. (Justin Berl/Getty Images)

There was no debate on Thursday night as Boston College defensive back Khari Johnson gave a textbook example of what it means to initiate a targeting penalty against Pittsburgh.

Panthers quarterback Nate Yarnell tried throwing a pass to tight end Malcolm Epps in between Johnson and KP Price. Johnson did not appear to make any effort to go for the ball, and instead, led with his helmet in trying to break up the pass. Johnson nailed Epps and a flag was thrown.

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Johnson was ejected.

Khari Johnson and Jeff Hafley

Khari Johnson, #3 of the Boston College Eagles, talks with head coach Jeff Hafley after being penalized for targeting in the first half during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 16, 2023 in Pittsburgh. (Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh won the game 24-16 in Yarnell’s second career start at quarterback. He threw for 207 yards and a touchdown and ran for another one in the win.

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“I’m just so grateful for the opportunity,” Yarnell said. “I came to Pitt. I love Pitt. I really enjoyed getting on the field.”

Pittsburgh ended a four-game losing streak with the victory and improved to 3-8 on the season.

Nate Yarnell looks to pass

Pittsburgh quarterback Nate Yarnell looks for a receiver during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Boston College, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

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Boston College fell to 6-5 on the season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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