Tiger miscues leave ACC dreams lying on Alumni Stadium turf


by - Senior Writer -
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CHESTNUT HILL, MA – Controlling their own destiny lasted exactly a day-and-a-half for the Clemson Tigers.

Three times the Tigers (4-4 overall, 2-3 ACC) drove inside the Boston College forty yard line in the second half, and each time they came away empty and the Eagles (3-5, 1-4) held on, leading to a 16-10 upset win in front of 37,000 fans at Alumni Stadium on Saturday, derailing any hopes the Tigers have of a return to the ACC Championship Game.

Turnovers, questionable calls and a glaring lack of execution led to the loss, and left Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney exasperated following the game as he admitted what was left on the cold turf at Alumni Stadium.

“We lost the season today,” Swinney said. “It was a one game season and we got beat today. It’s that simple. Missed plays. Missed opportunities. We just didn’t play very smart today. We certainly didn’t deserve to win.”

Boston College had jumped out to a 16-10 lead at the half behind the running of Montel Harris, but the Clemson defense was able to shut the Eagle offense down in the second half. However, Clemson’s offense managed two interceptions, one turnover on downs, one punt and a final drive that ran out of time in their final six possessions of the game, and Swinney said the ineffectiveness was surprising.

“The offense absolutely couldn’t do anything,” Swinney said. “We couldn’t capitalize and we missed some opportunities. Their kicker made kicks and we didn’t. This was a great opportunity for our football team, and we didn’t capitalize on it. We just didn’t do a good job offensively at all.

“The kids practiced hard all week and had good energy,” Swinney said. “The thing about dealing with young people is that sometimes you just wanna pull your hair out. That’s the only thing I can say. You have to take your opportunities against these guys. You have to execute, and we didn’t do a good job of that today.”

The Tigers were ineffective on the opening series of the game, and a short punt set up Boston College just short of midfield. On third down at the 50-yard line, Eagle quarterback Chase Rettig tried to throw an out route, but Clemson safety Rashard Hall jumped the route and cruised 52 yards into the endzone for a quick 7-0 Clemson lead.

Boston College answered with a long drive and were able to get inside the Clemson five yard line, but the Tiger defense stiffened and held the Eagles to a 21-yard field goal by Nate Freese. The drive was kept alive on a personal foul penalty – it appeared the drive ended on a completed pass near midfield, but linebacker Corico Hawkins was called for a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on Rettig.

Clemson got a 31-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro on the next drive for a 10-3 lead, and that lead held up just until the Eagles’ next possession. Boston College then put together a 16-play drive, but once again settled for a Freese field goal, this one from 37 yards out.

Boston College’s ensuing kickoff was squibbed into the middle of the field, and Jamie Harper couldn’t get a handle on the ball and the Eagles recovered at the Clemson 36-yard line. One play later, Rettig hit Harris on wide-open wheel route and it was 13-10 Boston College with 8:15 remaining in the half.

Clemson’s final drive of the half resulted in a dropped pass on third down followed by a bad snap and missed field goal, and the Eagles ate up the rest of the halftime clock, getting another Freese field goal for a 16-10 lead at intermission.

Clemson held on the Eagles’ first two second-half possessions, and Clemson drove down inside the Eagle 20-yard line on their second drive, but Catanzaro missed a 36-yard field goal, and the Eagles clung to their six-point lead.


Clemson’s defense once again held, and as the third quarter ran out and the fourth quarter began, the Tigers once again drove inside the Boston College 20-yard line, but a third-down play turned into a Kyle Parker interception.

Boston College’s drive was once again stopped, and Clemson took the ensuing possession inside the Eagle 40-yard line, and facing a fourth-and-seven at the 39-yard line, Clemson elected to go for it with under six minutes remaining.

Parker had time to throw, but tight end Dwayne Allen ran his route a yard short of the yard marker, and despite his catch, he was wrapped up immediately to end the drive just short of a first down.

Clemson’s defense forced their fifth punt of the half on the next series, and the Tigers took over at their own 17-yard line with three-and-a-half minutes remaining and the season on the line.

The Tigers moved the ball with two quick first downs, but on second down Parker once again forced a throw and linebacker Luke Kuechly stepped in front of the pass on the sideline and ended Clemson’s hopes with an interception with 1:42 remaining.

Boston College ran three plays and Clemson forced a punt, taking over at their own 14-yard line with just 43 seconds remaining, but a Hail Mary as time expired fell incomplete.

“We just couldn’t manage the game very well,” Swinney said. “You should stay on schedule and make the plays that are available. We knew it was going to be a tight game. Those guys are good at what they do. They had the one mistake on offense, but other than that they managed the game great. They played good defense and we missed some key plays.”

The Eagles took advantage of the Clemson passing game, especially in the red zone, dropping as many as eight defenders into coverage and forcing Parker to find an open receiver in the middle of a lot of bodies.

Parker said the interceptions were simply a case of trying to make a play.

“Obviously, it was a poor decision and if I could take it back I would,” Parker said of the first interception. “For me, we were going into the wind and we were facing a long kick and I wanted to give our guy a chance. I was just trying to make a play going into the wind, and wanted to give our guy a chance to go up and get one. When we had those long third downs and they played that match coverage, it’s hard to squeeze one in there.”

Harris was the game-changer for the Eagles, gaining 142 tough yards on 36 carries in helping the Eagles to an almost 10 minute advantage in time of possession. Freshman quarterback Rettig shook off the early mistake to finish 9-of-16 for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Ellington led all Clemson rushers with 14 carries for 42 yards, and Parker finished 21-of-39 for 176 yards and the two interceptions.


Ellington was taken out early in the fourth quarter with a turf toe injury, and he was limping visibly after the game. He said it happened on a fourth quarter pass play. He said the trainer told him it wasn’t serious, and he fully expects to play next week against N.C. State.

Two other injuries to watch are defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who got hit in the ankle by teammate Corico Hawkins in the first half and receiver Jaron Brown who left with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Swinney said Brown's injury was a high ankle sprain that could cause him to miss some time, but Brown's didn’t look quite as serious.


Also, after Catanzaro’s two misses, senior kicker Richard Jackson could be seen warming up on the sideline, and Swinney admitted that Jackson would have come in to kick had the Tigers needed a field goal or extra point. He also said that the kicking competition would be opened back up this week.


Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson............. 10  0  0  0  - 10       Record: (4-4,2-3)
Boston College......  3 13  0  0  - 16       Record: (3-5,1-4)



Scoring Summary:
1st 11:59 CU - Rashard Hall 52 yd interception return (Chandler Catanzaro kick), , CU 7 - BC 0
    06:49 BC - Freese, N 21 yd field goal, 9-70 5:10, CU 7 - BC 3
    03:04 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 31 yd field goal, 9-64 3:45, CU 10 - BC 3
2nd 08:32 BC - Freese, N 36 yd field goal, 16-62 9:39, CU 10 - BC 6
    08:15 BC - Harris, M 36 yd pass from Rettig, C (Freese, N kick), 1-36 0:10, CU 10 - BC 13
    00:00 BC - Freese, N 36 yd field goal, 10-55 3:49, CU 10 - BC 16



                                     CU       BC
FIRST DOWNS...................       19       16
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    23-86   45-168
PASSING YDS (NET).............      176      136
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  39-21-2   17-9-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   62-262   62-304
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      1-3      0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     3-37     3-52
Interception Returns-Yards....     1-52      2-4
Punts (Number-Avg)............   2-54.0   6-39.8
Fumbles-Lost..................      1-1      0-0
Penalties-Yards...............     3-35     7-71
Possession Time...............    25:53    34:07
Third-Down Conversions........  4 of 11  4 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 1   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      1-3      3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      2-5      0-0


RUSHING: Clemson-Andre Ellington 14-42; Kyle Parker 2-22; Jamie Harper
6-21; Jaron Brown 1-1. Boston College-Harris, M 36-142; Williams, A 5-24;
Rettig, C 4-2.

PASSING: Clemson-Kyle Parker 21-39-2-176. Boston College-Rettig, C
9-16-1-136; TEAM 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING: Clemson-Dwayne Allen 7-57; Bryce McNeal 4-43; Jaron Brown
3-15; Brandon Ford 2-14; Jamie Harper 2-5; DeAndre Hopkins 1-21; Marquan Jones
1-12; Andre Ellington 1-9. Boston College-Swigert, B 4-26; Pantale, C 2-13;
Momah, I 1-40; Harris, M 1-36; McCluskey, J 1-21.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-Rashard Hall 1-52. Boston College-Fletcher, D 1-4;
Kuechly, L 1-0.

FUMBLES: Clemson-Jamie Harper 1-1. Boston College-None.

Stadium: Alumni Stadium        Attendance: 37137
Kickoff time: 12:10 PM  End of Game: 3:08      Total elapsed time: 2:58
Officials: Referee: Ron Cherry; Umpire: Tom Laverty; Linesman: Perry Hudspeth;
Line judge: Rick Page; Back judge: Pat Ryan; Field judge: Chris Brown;
Side judge: Mike Safrit; Scorer: Jack Dwyer;
Temperature: 51        Wind: W10-15    Weather: Sunny

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