Catanzaro overcomes miss to kick Tigers into ACC Championship Game

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS So. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 200
Greenville, SC

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walked to the sidelines following his missed 30-yard field goal, and knew that the air had been sucked out of the stadium.

The sophomore from Greenville had an opportunity to put the Tigers ahead of Wake Forest with 1:18 left on the game clock, but his boot went wide right and the game remained tied at 28-28 as a disbelieving crowd sat stunned.

“After I missed that, I was so disappointed in myself,” Catanzaro said. “I was so disappointed. For a team to go up to a kicker after I miss a chip shot, that belief they have in me is just unbelievable. I love every one of them to death. They are just an awesome group. The coaches are the same way.”

Instead of teammates turning their back on him, he was embraced by teammates and coaches alike, who all had one common message – shake it off, because we’re going to get the ball and you are going to win this for us.

“This team is great,” Catanzaro said. “Probably every single player came up to me and said, ‘Chandler, we’re going to give you another chance.’ The defense as they were running out said, ‘We’re going to give you another shot.’ I knew they were going to get a three-and-out because that’s what they do. They are an awesome group. Brandon FordBrandon Ford
RS Jr. Tight End
#80 6-4, 235
Wando, SC

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actually came up to me and said, ‘Chandler, we are going to drive down there and give you another shot in regulation.’ All of the coaches were coming up to me saying, ‘We’re going to give you another shot and you’re going to nail it.’ All of that support was awesome.”

The Tiger defense held – getting a big sack from seniors Rennie MooreRennie Moore
RS Sr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 265
Saint Marys, GA

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and Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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- and the Tiger offense drove down the field to the Wake Forest 26-yard line, setting up Catanzaro’s second chance.

Catanzaro lined up for a potential game-winner, a 43-yarder that would send the Tigers to the ACC Championship Game, but Wake head coach Jim Grobe called a timeout in order to “ice” Catanzaro.

Catanzaro walked to the sideline, where head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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had his own message for the player he calls “Catman.”

“When talking to Chandler on the sidelines before the final field goal, I told him, ‘Put it through the pipes. If you make it we win. If not, we win in overtime,’” Swinney said. “We have grand plans, but things don’t always go to plan. We don’t panic.”

Catanzaro said he wanted nothing to do with overtime.

“I think during the first timeout Coach Swinney was saying, ‘There’s nothing to lose. We will win this in overtime.’ Of course me, I’m saying, ‘Let’s win this right now.’”

Grobe then called a second timeout.

“After the second time out, I don’t think anyone really said anything to me. I don’t remember. I was really focused. I just took those ices as a positive and went out and drilled it. I’m extremely proud of myself and the team.”

Catanzaro lined up for his field goal, and promptly drilled it through the uprights for the win.

“That was definitely the best kick of my career,” he said. “It was rising through the uprights, slow rotation, right down the middle, end-over-end, great contact. It was just God working and having a plan for me. I knew that. I was thinking, ‘This is God’s plan for me to make this.’ I went out there with that confidence knowing that God was right beside me. My family and my true friends and my team and all of the fans were all behind me. It was awesome.”

Catanzaro sprinted down the field, teammates in hot pursuit, and thought back to kicker Morten Andersen.

“It was just so surreal,” he said. “Morten Andersen helped me this summer. Every week I watched his game winner against the Vikings to put the Falcons in the NFC Championship and how he reacted. I think I reacted the same exact way because I’ve been watching it so much. I give all the glory to God. It was a surreal feeling with all of the fans coming out and the team picking me up. It was just awesome.”

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