Cardiac Cats: Clemson winning the dramatic, close games


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Deon Cain celebrates late in Clemson's win over Florida St.
Deon Cain celebrates late in Clemson's win over Florida St.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Cardiac Cats did it again.

Clemson entered Saturday night’s game at Florida St. with four wins by seven points or less this season, including a thrilling come-from-behind win over Louisville, an overtime win against N.C. State and a hold on for dear life win at Auburn to open the season.

Make it five after Saturday.

Clemson trailed 28-20 after three quarters, but outscored Florida St. 17-6 in the fourth quarter and sacked Seminole quarterback Deondre Francois on Florida St.’s last two offensive plays of the night, outlasting the Seminoles 37-34 and winning in Tallahassee for the first time since 2006 and just the second time since 1989.

It’s just more of the same for a team that refuses to lose.

“This is a very surreal season we have going right now,” tight end Jordan Leggett said after the game. “I think we are extremely blessed, and it seems like somebody is definitely looking over us. We have such an incredible belief in our team, on offense, defense and special teams. We really never hesitated at any point in the game. We just kept believing.”

Running back Wayne Gallman said so many close games are filled with both heartbreak and jubilation.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak in there, but we seem to finish,” Gallman said. “And that’s a good thing, because we work so hard in practice on finishing. We keep our composure, and we know if we’re down that there’s still a way. We are confident in each other, and we know that with Deshaun (Watson) back there with our offensive line and receivers, there is always a way. We knew we had to be special tonight, keep our composure and find a way. These guys are all my brothers and that’s important.”

Gallman said the players don’t want the close outcomes, but they feel confident they’ll pull out the win if they need to.

“My focus is to never go into the game where we’re going to be in that situation,” he said. “But, knowing that if we are we are going to find a way. We learned this last year, because we were in this situation a lot last year.”

It was the Clemson defense that had to hold on for dear life at the end, and defensive end Clelin Ferrell said it was a normal situation for a team that’s gone 16-2 in their last 18 games decided by seven points or loss.

“It was nothing we haven’t seen before,” Ferrell said. “I wouldn’t want to be with another group of guys. We’ve been here before, and we knew we would find a way. We fight right up until the very end. We are battle-tested. There was no doubt from anybody on that field tonight that we were going to come away with the win.”

What makes this team one that can win late?

“We’re special. Just special,” Ferrell said. “We wouldn’t want it to be a blowout each game. We know we are going to fight regardless of the scoreboard. We are going to make the plays when we need to, and we are going to play our best when we need to. We have a lot of misfits and a lot of guys that have been counted out.”


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