Tigers' bowl game a reflection of 2010 season


by - Senior Writer -
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USF held Clemson running back Jamie Harper to 34 yards on 20 carries.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – One more play and half a yard short sum up the end of the Meineke Car Care Bowl and Clemson’s 2010 football season.

The Tigers rallied from an 18-point fourth quarter deficit to pull within five, but a last-gasp onside kick effort – fielded cleanly by DeAndre McDaniel - was ruled to have been an illegal touch and the South Florida Bulls held on for a 31-26 victory over the Tigers at Bank of America Stadium , giving Clemson its first losing season since 1998.

The Tiger offense seemed mired in the post-snow mud for most of the game, but quarterback Tajh Boyd rallied the team from a 31-13 fourth quarter deficit. Boyd, who finished 13-of-23 for 112 yards, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Ford with 1:47 remaining.

The Tigers recovered the onside kick, quickly moved down the field and Boyd found Ford again for a 10-yard touchdown, this time with 43 seconds left on the game clock. However, Clemson's second onside kick was touched by McDaniel about a half-yard short of the 10 yards it needed to travel and USF took over and ran out the clock on the game and Clemson’s season.

A season that started with high expectations with a 2-0 start, and then a handful of missed opportunities at Auburn began a run of a missed play here and there in a season of close losses. The final notes and stats are not good – the first losing season since 1998 [and just the fourth since 1976], back-to-back losses to the arch-rival for the first time since 1971 and another without an ACC title [1991] – and it all culminated in what was mostly a lackluster effort to a Big East squad that finished 3-4 in their conference.

“Obviously, I am disappointed in the outcome and how we played,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “This is about moving forward for me, and I am going to do everything to get us better as a football team and make sure this never happens again. It is what it is and we have to live with it and deal with it. It is nobody’s responsibility but mine and we are going to move forward from this point.

“I want to congratulate South Florida. They played well and they were prepared well. I have to give them all the credit. The only positive thing to say on our end is that we didn’t quit. We kept battling and we fell half a yard short there at the end. Who knows what could have happened if we had gotten that there. But I love these guys and I am proud of them. They never quit and have a great attitude.”

Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field on Clemson’s first possession, but Byron Maxwell intercepted a B.J. Daniels’ pass on the Bulls’ second play from scrimmage. Catanzaro atoned for the earlier miss by drilling a 27-yard field goal and Clemson led 3-0.

A critical penalty and a lost man on defense led to South Florida’s first score. Xavier Brewer hit Daniels out of bounds, a personal foul penalty, and one play later Daniels found Demetris Murray all alone for on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Linebacker Corico Hawkins followed the wrong receiver to the middle of the field, leaving Murray wide open for the easy score and a 7-3 Bull lead.

Clemson’s ensuing play from scrimmage was a disaster, as Quenton Washington intercepted a Kyle Parker pass and returned it 45 yards to the Clemson 10-yard line. Three plays later, Maikon Bonani hit a 27-yard field goal and South Florida led 10-3 with 13:42 remaining in the second quarter.

Clemson’s next possession again went nowhere, and South Florida again stuck the ball in the end zone. Facing a 3rd-and-5 at the Clemson 15-yard line, Daniels through a quick out to Dontavia Bogan. As Bogan turned upfield, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh fell down and Bogan lumbered untouched into the end zone for a 17-3 Bull lead.

The Tigers drove inside South Florida territory on their next possession, and facing a 4th-and-2 at the 26-yard line, Swinney ignored the boo birds in the stadium and elected to go for the field goal. Catanzaro made it from 44 yards out and South Florida still held a 17-6 lead with 3:55 left in the first half.

Clemson’s defensive line made a huge play on the next South Florida possession. The Bulls had already gained two first downs on the drive, and on a first down carry near midfield Murray was drilled by Jenkins and fumbled the ball.

Brandon Thompson dove on the loose ball and Clemson took over at the USF 43-yard line. Clemson failed to get a first down in three plays, and facing a 4th-and-7 with 57 seconds left on the clock, the Tigers elected to go for the first down instead of the punt. South Florida blitzed on the play, and Harper twice picked up defenders, allowing Parker to hit a wide-open Marquan Jones for 38 yards and a first down with 43 seconds left.

Three plays later, Harper followed fullback Chad Diehl into the end zone, scoring from a yard out, and Clemson was back in the game, trailing just 17-13 with 33 seconds remaining in the first half.


As it turned out, Parker broke his ribs on an option run near the goal line on the play before Harper’s touchdown run. Parker dove for the end zone and was drilled by a linebacker on the play. It was announced at halftime that he would not return.

“Your last game you want to win and it didn’t happen,” Parker said. “I feel worse for the guys that will never play in an environment or a competition like this again. For me, I get to go play a game every day, and a lot of these guys won't. I would have just liked to have sent them out with a win.”

The Bulls came out in the second half and drove the ball down the throat of the Clemson defense – aided by a pass interference call on Sensabaugh in the end zone – taking 5:13 off the clock. The 13-yard drive ended on a two-yard plunge by Moise Plancher, and the Bulls led 24-13.

The Bulls missed a late third quarter field goal, but put the game away early in the fourth quarter. Boyd overthrew Bryce McNeal on a pass over the middle and it was intercepted by JaQuez Jenkins, who returned it 48 yards to the Clemson five.

Two plays later Daniels eluded a Hawkins’ tackle and scampered eight yards into the end zone for a 31-13 Bull lead just a minute into the final stanza.

Boyd finally found his rhythm in the fourth quarter, leading the two scoring drives, and admitted following the game that he felt more comfortable in the final four minutes than he did when he started the third quarter.

“Coach Swinney came over to me during halftime and told me about Kyle, and he told me to go out there and win the game,” Boyd said. “I am upset that I couldn’t do that. I came out in the third quarter and I was a little nervous and I made some mistakes. On the interception, I should have thrown to the check-down but I tried to force it in there, just trying to make a play.

“But there is no doubt in my mind that if we had gotten that last onside kick we were going to win that game. I don’t think that they could have stopped us. I thought he had it. I got some confidence out there today, and I think this offense is headed for great things. I just wish this had turned out different.”

Boyd admitted that losing another close one is hard, but said it can only help the younger players heading into next season.

“Losing like that has been the story for us all year,” Boyd said. “It was disappointing the way it ended, but things happen for a reason. I think this was a time to get some of our guys to grow up a little and let them know what kind of team we could be next year. We just have a lot of little things to work on. I think we have a championship caliber team. Hopefully, we can put all the pieces together and become that championship team next year.”

Swinney said in his post-game press conference that he knew Clemson fans were going to be upset by the way the season ended.

“I am sure they are upset about it,” he said. “If I was sitting in their shoes I would be doubting and questioning me, too. We lost our confidence somewhere along the way. It was a tough year, but it is a new year starting tomorrow, and I have to make sure this never happens again. I don’t blame the fans one bit for being ticked off; they should be ticked off. I’m going to do everything I can to- get us better.”

Swinney was asked about possible staff changes, and he deferred the question to a later date.

“As I said earlier, I’m going to do everything I can to make this program better,” he said. “That includes anything and everything within my power. I’ll speak further on that at a later date.”



Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
South Florida Bulls.  7 10  7  7  - 31       Record: (8-5)
Clemson.............  3 10  0 13  - 26       Record: (6-7)



Scoring Summary:
1st 05:30 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 27 yd field goal, 7-25 3:16, USF 0 - CU 3
    00:39 USF - MURRAY,Demetri 25 yd pass from DANIELS,BJ (BONANI,Maikon kick), 6-82 2:25, USF 7 - CU 3
2nd 13:42 USF - BONANI,Maikon 27 yd field goal, 4-1 1:41, USF 10 - CU 3
    07:19 USF - BOGAN,Dontavia 15 yd pass from DANIELS,BJ (BONANI,Maikon kick), 9-64 4:15, USF 17 - CU 3
    03:55 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 44 yd field goal, 8-48 3:17, USF 17 - CU 6
    00:30 CU - Jamie Harper 1 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 7-43 0:50, USF 17 - CU 13
3rd 09:47 USF - PLANCHER,Moise 2 yd run (BONANI,Maikon kick), 13-83 5:05, USF 24 - CU 13
4th 13:58 USF - DANIELS,BJ 8 yd run (BONANI,Maikon kick), 2-5 0:48, USF 31 - CU 13
    01:47 CU - Brandon Ford 6 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Tajh Boyd pass failed), 7-59 1:59, USF 31 - CU 19
    00:43 CU - Brandon Ford 10 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 5-43 1:00, USF 31 - CU 26



                                    USF       CU
FIRST DOWNS...................       18       17
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    37-90    27-50
PASSING YDS (NET).............      189      246
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  28-20-1  41-24-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   65-279   68-296
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............     2-38      0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     4-57     5-82
Interception Returns-Yards....     2-93      1-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............   3-29.3   5-42.6
Fumbles-Lost..................      2-1      0-0
Penalties-Yards...............     3-40     6-46
Possession Time...............    30:25    29:35
Third-Down Conversions........  9 of 14  5 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 0   3 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      4-4      4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-16     3-13


RUSHING: South Florida Bulls-PLANCHER,Moise 14-50; MURRAY,Demetri 8-25;
DANIELS,BJ 11-22; TEAM 2-minus 3; LAMAR, Lindsey 2-minus 4. Clemson-Jamie Harper
20-34; Michael Wade 1-8; Kyle Parker 2-8; Tajh Boyd 3-1; Jaron Brown 1-minus 1.

PASSING: South Florida Bulls-DANIELS,BJ 20-27-1-189; LANDI, Evan 0-1-0-0.
Clemson-Tajh Boyd 13-23-1-112; Kyle Parker 11-17-1-134; TEAM 0-1-0-0; Jamie
Harper 0-0-0-0.

RECEIVING: South Florida Bulls-LAMAR, Lindsey 5-40; MURRAY,Demetri 3-35;
GIDREY, Kevin 3-34; LANDI, Evan 2-36; MILLER,Joel 2-10; PLANCHER,Moise 2-8;
BOGAN,Dontavia 1-15; HORNES, Faron 1-7; BRAVO-BROWN, St 1-4. Clemson-DeAndre
Hopkins 8-94; Jamie Harper 6-12; Brandon Ford 4-45; Jaron Brown 3-40; Dwayne
Allen 2-17; Marquan Jones 1-38.

INTERCEPTIONS: South Florida Bulls-JENKINS, JaQuez 1-48; WASHINGTON,Q
1-45. Clemson-Byron Maxwell 1-0.

FUMBLES: South Florida Bulls-LAMAR, Lindsey 1-0; MURRAY,Demetri 1-1.
Clemson-None.

Stadium: Bank of America Sta.  Attendance: 41122
Kickoff time: 12:07     End of Game: 3:19      Total elapsed time: 3:16
Officials: Referee: Tom Ritter; Umpire: Russ Pulley; Linesman: Al Matthews;
Line judge: Terry Walters; Back judge: Stan Murray; Field judge: Blake Parks;
Side judge: Chuck Russ; Scorer: OliverRoosevelt;
Temperature: 48        Wind: calm      Weather: mostly cloudy

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