Big second half carries Tigers to victory over Bulldogs
|Saturday, September 17, 2022, 11:37 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Whatever head coach Dabo Swinney said to his team at halftime worked.
Clemson’s defense forced three third-quarter turnovers and the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 21-0 coming out of the half on the way to a 48-20 victory Saturday night in Death Valley. Clemson (3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) led just 13-6 at the half.
Will Shipley carried the ball 12 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Shipley became the first Clemson player in records back to 1950 to open a season with multiple rushing touchdowns in each of the season’s first three games.
Clemson has won nine consecutive games, the longest streak in the Power Five. Clemson has not trailed at any point in its last six games, victories against Wake Forest, South Carolina, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, Furman, and Louisiana Tech. Clemson last trailed on Nov. 13 last year until the Tigers turned a 7-3 deficit against UConn into a 10-7 lead on a Will Swinney fake field goal for a first quarter touchdown in an eventual 44-7 win.
The win also gives Clemson the 14th winning streak of nine games or more in program history. The Tigers won their 36th consecutive home game to extend its school record for both the longest home winning streak and longest home unbeaten streak in school history (as well as extend the nation’s longest active home winning streak). No member of Clemson’s roster has lost a home game at Clemson in their careers.
Clemson is 23-4 in night games since the start of the 2018 season and is 42-7 at night since 2015. The Tigers also won their 18th consecutive night game in Death Valley, a streak that dates back to the middle of the 2013 season.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and fashioned a nice nine-play, 70-yard drive. The drive bogged down inside the Bulldog 10 and the Tigers settled for a 3-0 lead after a 22-yard field goal from BT Potter.
Five minutes later the Tigers completed a six-play, 79-yard drive and capped it off with a two-yard run by Shipley. Midway through the first quarter the Tigers led 10-0, but that was the last good news for a while.
Jacob Barnes hit a 35-yard field goal for Tech that made it 10-3 early in the second quarter, and the Tigers added a 36-yarder from Potter three minutes later to make it 13-3. Tech added a 27-yarder from Barnes with 3:18 to play in the half and Clemson led just 13-6 at intermission. Clemson totaled just 79 yards in the second quarter.
The Clemson defense stood tall to start the second half. Tech faced a 3rd-and-20 at their own 15 and quarterback Parker McNeil’s pass was intercepted by Tiger middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter at the Bulldog 32-yard line.
Shipley did the rest on the next play, bursting through the middle for a 32-yard touchdown run and a 20-6 Clemson lead.
The Bulldogs drove deep into Clemson territory on the ensuing drive, reaching the 20, but Malcolm Greene intercepted McNeil at the Clemson seven. Following the return and a penalty for holding, the Tigers took over at their own 21-yard line.
Shipley once again broke loose on the first play, gaining 27 hard yards for a first down. The Tigers crossed midfield, but Uiagalelei failed to gain any ground on 3rd-and-1 at the Tech 42. The Tigers elected to go for it, and Shipley gained nine yards and a first down, putting him over 100 yards rushing for the game. A 14-yard pass to tight end Davis Allen set up a four-yard touchdown run by Phil Mafah, and with 5:25 to play in the third quarter Clemson led 27-6.
Louisiana Tech gained eight yards on three plays following the kickoff, and facing a 4th-and-2 at their own 33, elected to go for it. Marquis Ceosby took the handoff from McNeil and was swallowed up for a one-yard loss by Justin Mascoll and Wade Woodaz. With the turnover on downs, the Tigers took over deep in Bulldog territory with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter.
One play later, Uiagalelei faked the short pass and then tossed to a wide-open Beaux Collins at the 10, and Collins bullied his way into the endzone for a 34-6 lead.
However, the Bulldogs didn’t go away and put together two touchdown drives, trimming the Clemson lead to 34-20 with just over nine minutes to play. The Tigers had put in backup Cade Klubnik the previous two drives, along with a plethora of other backups, but the starters were re-inserted and promptly went down the field.
Uiagalelei dropped a pretty throw over the shoulder of freshman Antonio Williams in the endzone, and Clemson led 41-20 with just over six minutes to play. A bad snap on Tech’s next drive was recovered by Kevin Swint at the Bulldog 12, and three plays later Kobe Pace rumbled in from three yards out for a 48-20 lead with 4:53 remaining.
The Tigers return to action next week, traveling to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for noon.