Tigers rally past Seminoles, 40-24


by - Senior Writer -
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Spiller now has 6702 all-purpose running yards which moved him ahead of Reggie Bush on the all-time NCAA list.

CLEMSON – The distance between the Clemson Tigers and the ACC Championship was shortened by 312 yards on Saturday night.

Clemson’s star running back, C.J. Spiller, with 312 yards, set the Clemson all-purpose yard record for the second time in two weeks Saturday night, and the Tigers (6-3, 4-2) kept control of their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division with a mistake-filled but loud and raucous 40-24 win over Florida St. (4-5, 2-4), using the bright lights of a national ESPN audience to showcase Spiller to the country and into more Heisman Trophy consideration.

“You have to believe to be a champion, and these guys believed tonight,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. “This is just a great, great day to be a Clemson Tigers. We’re happy, but we’re not satisfied. We still have more games to play, so we still have to work and get ready for the N.C. State game next week. We’ve come far, but we still have a ways to go.”

Swinney said he was proud of all of his seniors, but one senior stood out more than the others.

“C.J. Spiller 312 yards, broke his own record,” Swinney said. “I will say this, too. If C.J. is not on yall’s Heisman list, then yall need turn your pens in. Just turn them in. If C.J. Spiller doesn’t get respect from you media folks, then what are we looking at? He is the best player in college football and plays hurt. The guy is unbelievable. It is high time everybody starts to become a believer in C.J. Spiller. That is why you come back, for games like that.”

Clemson was unable to score on the game’s opening possession, and a 42-yard punt return by FSU’s Greg Reid set up a 35-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins, and the Seminoles led 3-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Tigers responded on their next possession, however, with Kyle Parker’s 23-yard crossing pattern to Jacoby Ford setting a 17-yard scoring strike to tight end Dwayne Allen. The extra point was missed, and Clemson led 6-3.

It didn’t take long for the Seminoles to respond with a touchdown of their own, needing just three plays before quarterback Christian Ponder hit freshman fullback Lonnie Pryor on a wheel route from 49-yards out, and the Seminoles were back on top 10-6.

Clemson’s next possession ended in disaster. With Clemson facing a long third down, Parker threw behind receiver Marquan Jones, and the ball was intercepted by FSU’s Jamie Robinson, who returned it 52 yards for a touchdown and a 17-6 Seminole lead as the first quarter drew to a close.

The Seminoles were driving on their next possession when linebacker Kavell Conner hit FSU running back Jermaine Thomas and forced a fumble that was recovered by Rashard Hall at the Seminole 48-yard line. Two plays later, Parker hit Xavier Dye on a crossing pattern for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Clemson went for two points, and converted on a plunge by Spiller, and FSU led 17-14 with 10:23 remaining in the half.

Two Ponder interceptions gave Clemson two opportunities in Seminole territory, but Kyle Parker fumbled one chance away inside the 15-yard line, and Jackson missed a 38-yard field goal as the Seminoles held onto the lead.

“We couldn’t stop them in the first half,” Swinney said. “We came in at halftime and made good adjustments, and those guys executed.”

Clemson held the Seminoles on their opening possession of the second half, and the Tigers responded by driving 80 yards in just five plays, the final one a 58-yard pass from Parker to Spiller. Spiller came out of the backfield and ran a wheel route down the left sideline, catching Parker’s pass in stride and giving Clemson a 21-17 lead.

Florida St. went 4-for-4 on third down conversions on their next drive, and Thomas capped the drive with a one-yard plunge as the Seminoles retook the lead at 24-21.

Clemson used two long C.J. Spiller runs to drive deep into Seminole territory on its next drive, and Parker hit Michael Palmer for an apparent Clemson go-ahead touchdown, but Dwayne Allen was called for lining up improperly, and the touchdown was nullified. Jackson then missed his third kick of the night, and Florida St. still held on to its tenuous lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Ponder was picked off for the third time in the game, this time by Rashard Hall. Hall returned the interception 11 yards, but ill-advisedly tried to lateral back to a teammate and the ball rolled free. Conner was there to pick it up, and he rumbled 29 yards to the FSU 24-yard line. Five plays later, Andre Ellington busted between the tackles for a nine-yard touchdown run.

Spencer Benton came in to take over the kicking duties, but he also missed the extra point, and Clemson led 27-24 with 9:37 remaining in the game.

The Tigers used two nice Spiller runs and a 43-yard romp by Ellington to set up a two-yard touchdown pass from Parker to tight end Durell Barry. However, Jackson was back in for the kick and missed it again, and Clemson led 33-24 with 4:06 remaining.

DeAndre McDaniel finally dashed any Seminole hopes of an upset when he picked off Ponder, the fourth Tiger interception of the night, and returned it to the FSU five-yard line. Spiller promptly punched it in, and set off the kind of celebration the Death Valley faithful have been waiting for, with the biggest roar erupting after Spiller made a mini Heisman pose in the end zone.

“You didn’t see a pose,” a sheepish Spiller said after the game. “Hopefully you will see it in New York if I’m holding up the trophy. I just got caught up in the moment. It was a mini. We just stuck together. We knew Florida St. wasn’t going to quit. We had just had to take advantage of the opportunities. I am hurt, but I will be ready to go next week.”

Spiller was asked if he thought he was the best player in the country, and he responded in typical Spiller fashion.

“I don’t worry about that,” Spiller said. “I just try to go out every Saturday and prove I am the best. I just try to put my team in position to win. Everything else will take care of itself when the time comes. Tonight was just another great ACC win, but we have two more games to go. All that extra stuff will take care of itself.”

Spiller rushed 22 times for 165 yards, and caught three passes for another 67 yards. He had one punt return for nine yards and three kickoff returns for 71 yards, and FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said he was happiest when Spiller wasn’t on the field.

“I think that game is pretty easy to summarize,” Bowden said. “I thought that Spiller was the difference in the ball game. He is one guy that made the biggest difference. I doubt if anybody is playing better than him in the country. I look at the running back at Alabama {Mark Ingram], and he is pretty good, but Spiller is such a dynamic player. The happiest I was, was when he was off the field.”

Kyle Parker was 18-for-30 for 242 yards and four touchdowns, while Xavier Dye caught three passes for 68 yards. Ellington was the second leading rusher for Clemson, carrying six times for 55 yards.

Swinney said he was glad to get the win, but has plenty to improve on in the next week.

“Tonight, we won in spite of ourselves,” Swinney said. “We have a lot of coaching to do. There are a lot of mistakes to watch on film. I don’t even know how many times we missed field goals or extra points, and in the first half we couldn’t stop them. We have a lot of maturing to do as a football team.”


NOTES:


*Prior to the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and offensive line coach Brad Scott presented FSU defensive coordinator with a Clemson helmet and a football signed by the Clemson football team. Andrews, who coached at Clemson from 1977-80, is retiring at season’s end.

*C.J. Spiller’s first quarter reception gave him 106 in his Clemson career, a Tiger record for running backs.

*Richard Jackson’s missed extra point on Clemson’s first quarter touchdown broke a streak of 116 consecutive for the Tigers. They had not missed an extra point since the 2006 Music City Bowl.

*Kyle Parker’s first quarter touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen was his 11th of the season, a Clemson record for a freshman quarterback. With a second quarter completion to Jacoby Ford, he also broke the Clemson yardage record for a freshman quarterback. The 19-yard gain gave him 1558 this season, breaking Charlie Whitehurst’s record of 1554.

*The two-point conversion by C.J. Spiller in the second quarter was the first of his illustrious Clemson career.

*Clemson had five penalties for 40 yards in the first half. Coming into the game, the Tigers were averaging 4.6 penalties, which was good four 4th-best in the nation.

*Spiller’s 58-yard, third quarter touchdown catch was the 20th play of 50 yards or longer in his career, and his eighth this season.

Attendance: 77000

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Florida State....... 17  0  7  0  - 24
Clemson.............  6  8  7 19  - 40

Scoring Summary:
1st 07:02 FS - Hopkins, D 35 yd field goal
                                                    9 plays, 26 yards, TOP 5:19, FS 3 - CU 0
    03:53 CU - Dwayne Allen 17 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Richard Jackson kick failed)
                                                    7 plays, 76 yards, TOP 3:03, FS 3 - CU 6
    02:08 FS - Pryor, L 49 yd pass from Ponder, C (Hopkins, D kick)
                                                   4 plays, 78 yards, TOP 1:39, FS 10 - CU 6
    00:24 FS - Robinson, J 52 yd interception return (Hopkins, D kick)
                                                                                FS 17 - CU 6
2nd 10:23 CU - Xavier Dye 43 yd pass from Kyle Parker (C.J. Spiller rush)
                                                  2 plays, 48 yards, TOP 0:46, FS 17 - CU 14
3rd 11:31 CU - C.J. Spiller 58 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                  5 plays, 80 yards, TOP 1:26, FS 17 - CU 21
    05:04 FS - Thomas, J 1 yd run (Hopkins, D kick)
                                                 16 plays, 73 yards, TOP 6:19, FS 24 - CU 21
4th 09:37 CU - Andre Ellington 9 yd run (Spencer Benton kick failed)
                                                  5 plays, 24 yards, TOP 2:31, FS 24 - CU 27
    04:06 CU - Durrell Barry 2 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Richard Jackson kick failed)
                                                  6 plays, 73 yards, TOP 2:38, FS 24 - CU 33
    03:29 CU - C.J. Spiller 5 yd run (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                    1 play, 5 yards, TOP 0:05, FS 24 - CU 40



Kickoff time: 7:48 PM   End of Game: 11:17 PM  Total elapsed time: 3:29
Officials: Referee: Jack Childress; Umpire: Mike Wooten; Linesman: Tyrone Davis;
Line judge: Richard Misner; Back judge: Tommy Pace; Field judge: Mike Cullin;
Side judge: Watts Key;
Temperature: 61 deg    Wind: Calm      Weather: Clear skies

Team Statistics 

                                     FS       CU

FIRST DOWNS...................       22       21
  Rushing.....................        9       11
  Passing.....................       10       10
  Penalty.....................        3        0
NET YARDS RUSHING.............      128      241
  Rushing Attempts............       36       37
  Average Per Rush............      3.6      6.5
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        1        2
  Yards Gained Rushing........      151      265
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       23       24
NET YARDS PASSING.............      264      242
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  21-35-4  18-30-1
  Average Per Attempt.........      7.5      8.1
  Average Per Completion......     12.6     13.4
  Passing Touchdowns..........        1        4
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      392      483
  Total offense plays.........       71       67
  Average Gain Per Play.......      5.5      7.2
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      3-1      1-1
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     6-37     7-60
PUNTS-YARDS...................    3-108    3-127
  Average Yards Per Punt......     36.0     42.3
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     26.3     28.3
  Inside 20...................        1        1
  50+ Yards...................        0        1
  Touchbacks..................        1        0
  Fair catch..................        0        1
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    5-292    7-463
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     58.4     66.1
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     38.6     44.1
  Touchbacks..................        1        0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.   1-42-0    1-9-0
  Average Per Return..........     42.0      9.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  7-154-0   4-79-0
  Average Per Return..........     22.0     19.8
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..   1-52-1   4-82-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    32:42    27:18
  1st Quarter.................     7:04     7:56
  2nd Quarter.................     9:21     5:39
  3rd Quarter.................    11:14     3:46
  4th Quarter.................     5:03     9:57
Third-Down Conversions........  6 of 11  7 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 1   0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-2      4-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      1-1      2-3
PAT Kicks.....................      3-3      2-5
Field Goals...................      1-2      0-2

Individual Statistics 

Florida State

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Thomas, J            26  123    4  119  1 13  4.6
Ponder, C             5   14    1   13  0  9  2.6
Thompson, C           1    3    0    3  0  4  3.0
Pryor, L              1    2    0    2  0  2  2.0
TEAM                  1    0    2   -2  0  0 -2.0
Manuel, EJ            1    0    2   -2  0  0 -2.0
Reed, B               1    0   14  -14  0  0 -14.0
Hudson, R             0    9    0    9  0  0  0.0
Totals...            36  151   23  128  1 13  3.6

Passing              Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Ponder, C              21-33-4   264  1   49    1
Manuel, EJ              0-2-0      0  0    0    1
Totals...              21-35-4   264  1   49    2

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Owens, R                9   77    0   14
Reed, B                 4   68    0   44
Easterling, T           3   40    0   19
Pryor, L                2   64    1   49
Thomas, J               2   10    0    9
Fortson, J              1    5    0    5
Totals...              21  264    1   49

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Powell, S               3  108  36.0   41    1    1
Totals...               3  108  36.0   41    1    1

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
Robinson, J           0   0  0  0   0  0  1  52 52
Harley, J             0   0  0  1  12 12  0   0  0
Thompson, C           0   0  0  3  73 27  0   0  0
Reid, G               1  42 42  3  69 25  0   0  0
Totals...             1  42 42  7 154 27  1  52 52

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Hopkins, D           1st 07:02  35 yds - Good
Hopkins, D           2nd 00:00  58 yds - Missed

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Hopkins, D         5  292   1   0  58.4

Clemson

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
C.J. Spiller         22  177   12  165  1 45  7.5
Andre Ellington       6   55    1   54  1 43  9.0
Kyle Parker           4   23    1   22  0 10  5.5
Jacoby Ford           1    8    0    8  0  8  8.0
Jamie Harper          1    2    0    2  0  2  2.0
TEAM                  3    0   10  -10  0  0 -3.3
Totals...            37  265   24  241  2 45  6.5

Passing              Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Kyle Parker            18-30-1   242  4   58    1
Totals...              18-30-1   242  4   58    1

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Jacoby Ford             5   53    0   23
Xavier Dye              3   68    1   43
C.J. Spiller            3   67    1   58
Michael Palmer          2    7    0    5
Dwayne Allen            1   17    1   17
Terrance Ashe           1   15    0   15
Chad Diehl              1    7    0    7
Andre Ellington         1    6    0    6
Durrell Barry           1    2    1    2
Totals...              18  242    4   58

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Dawson Zimmerman        3  127  42.3   55    1    0
Totals...               3  127  42.3   55    1    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
C.J. Spiller          1   9  9  3  71 27  0   0  0
Coty Sensabaugh       0   0  0  0   0  0  1  11 11
Rashard Hall          0   0  0  0   0  0  1  11 11
Kavell Conner         0   0  0  0   0  0  0  29 29
Byron Maxwell         0   0  0  0   0  0  1   4  4
Kasey Nobles          0   0  0  1   8  8  0   0  0
DeAndre McDaniel      0   0  0  0   0  0  1  27 27
Totals...             1   9  9  4  79 27  4  82 29

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Richard Jackson      2nd 01:39  38 yds - Missed
Richard Jackson      3rd 02:44  26 yds - Missed

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Benton, S          7  463   0   0  66.1

FUMBLES: Florida State-Thompson, C 1-1; Reed, B 1-0; Thomas, J 1-0. 
Clemson-Kyle Parker 1-1.

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