CLEMSON - By the time 75,000 wet and weary Clemson fans left Death Valley
Saturday, any lingering questions as to Central Florida's ability had been
And then some.
The Golden Knights, as has been their custom in recent years against other
nationally-ranked opponents, threw a scare into the Tigers before finally
succumbing in the season opener, 21-13. In squeaking by, Clemson found out
what Georgia Tech (21-17 loss) and Alabama (40-38 win) discovered a year ago:
Nothing is easy against UCF.
"We prepared the team for a 60-minute game, and that's pretty much what it
was," said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. "If you look at Central Florida's
history, whether it be Nebraska, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia,
Georgia Tech, Ole Miss...they were pretty much true to tune.
"They come in, have a couple of big games a year. They're well coached, they
have good skill guys and they had a great plan."
The fact that a trick play ultimately provided Clemson (1-0) with its margin
of victory speaks of how well not only UCF's offense played, but its defense
The play, a 22-yard touchdown run by holder Jeff Scott on a fake field goal,
came with 10:36 left in the third quarter and gave Clemson a 21-7 lead.
Scott's run capped off an 11-play, 84-yard drive, and for a moment appeared
to rejuvenate the Tigers.
But led by a run defense which limited Clemson to just 138 yards on 42
carries (3.3 yards per carry), UCF kept the Tigers from crossing midfield for
the remainder of the game.
"I've never had that happen," said UCF coach Mike Kruczek about the fake.
"That should never happen. The defense did their job, they did a good job of
bending but not breaking against this 'great offense.' It was just the
special teams that let us down a little bit today."
"We planned to run on our second field goal, but the timing was right for the
first," Bowden said. "Jeff Scott is a typical coach's son. He studies the
game; he knows what to look for and how to look for it."
Clemson finished with just 138 rushing yards on 42 carries. Quarterback Woody
Dantzler was held to 18 carries for 46 yards, but completed 15-25 passes for
154 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Clemson's defense found itself in an unwelcome, albeit familiar,
Unable to get consistent pressure on UCF quarterback Ryan Schneider (29-47,
297 yards) with its defensive line, the Tigers were forced to blitz two, and
sometimes even three, linebackers to get pressure.
That left Clemson's secondary in single coverage for much of the afternoon,
giving Schneider consistently open targets from which to choose. His numbers
could have been significantly better had UCF receivers not dropped several
"I think dropped passes and fumbles are part of the first game as well as
part of youth," Kruczek said. "As far as the pass dropping, that's been going
on for most of the summer. We just have to get better. When you throw the
ball as much as we do, you have to come up with those kind of catches."
Schneider brought his team back midway through the fourth quarter, capping
off a 60-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge at 8:09. Javier
Beorlegui shanked the extra point, leaving UCF trailing by eight, 21-13.
The Golden Knights appeared poised to score again late in the final quarter,
but on third and 13 from the Clemson 33, Schneider's pass under pressure to
Corey Baker was completed for a 5-yard loss. Rather than go for it on fourth
and 18 from the CU 38, UCF chose to punt with 3:39 to go and gamble on
getting the ball back for one final possession.
The strategy looked sound after Clemson gained just four yards on the first
two plays, but Dantzler's 8-yard run on third and six gave the Tigers a fresh
set of downs with less 2:00 remaining. Clemson was able to run the clock down
to :07 before Wynn Kopp was forced to punt the ball away from his own 40.
The Golden Knights could do nothing with the return, and Clemson escaped with
its first victory of 2001.
"There's still a lot of youth out there on the field," Bowden said. "We're
having to depend on them to win games for us and make plays. Hopefully in a
couple of years we won't have to do that."
Clemson opened the game as if it intended on putting away the Golden Knights
in the first quarter.
After forcing UCF to go three and out on the game's opening possession, the
Tigers drove 55 yards in nine plays for the afternoon's first score, a
five-yard pass from Dantzler to Zachery.
The drive took just 2:56.
Clemson's other first-half score came on a 16-yard run by Dantzler off the
option early in the second quarter, which at the time gave the Tigers a 14-7
lead they would take into the locker room.
Schneider kept UCF in the game early with his precision passing. He completed
6-10 throws for 62 yards on the Golden Knights' only scoring drive of the
half, a drive capped off by Alex Haynes' 7-yard touchdown run.
Schneider led his team deep into Clemson territory on two other occasions.
But a Haynes fumble choked off one drive at the Tigers' 16, and a 15-yard
personal foul penalty turned a chip-shot field goal into a 48-yard attempt
for Javier Beorlegui, who missed wide right.
For the half, Schneider completed 15-28 for 177 yards.
Clemson 7, UCF 0
Scoring drive: 9 plays, 55 yards in 2:56
Scoring play: Travis Zachery 5-yard pass from Woodrow Dantzler, 10:59
Key play: On the drive's first play, Roscoe Crosby took a shovel pass running
against the grain and gained 12 yards, setting the tone for the opening
Clemson 7, UCF 7
Scoring Drive: 15 plays, 81 yards in 6:28
Scoring Play: Alex Haynes 4-yard run at 12:40.
Key Play: On second and 13 from the Clemson 43, Tigers linebacker Braxton K.
Williams dropped an interception on a screen pass that would have been an
easy return for a touchdown, keeping the UCF drive alive.
Clemson 14, UCF 7
Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 43 yards in 1:24
Scoring Play: Woodrow Dantzler 16-yard run at 11:16.
Key Play: After UCF's game-tying touchdown, Clemson's Brian Mance returned
the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to the UCF 43.
Clemson 21, UCF 7
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 84 yards in 4:24.
Scoring Play: Holder Jeff Scott runs 22 yards on a fake field goal at 10:36.
Key Play: Roscoe Crosby's 33-yard reception to the UCF 38-yard line on third
Clemson 21, UCF 13
Scoring Play: Ryan Schneider 1-yard run at 8:09 (kick failed).
Key Play: On second and 8 from the Clemson 41, Schneider fumbled after being
hit by J. J. Howard. But UCF's Michael Gaines recovered the fumble and ran
eight yards back to the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Schneider
completed an 11-yard pass to Tavirus Davis for a first down to the CU 30.
NCAAF 1 2 3 4 F
- - - - --
Ucf 0 7 0 6 13
Clemson (18) 7 7 7 0 21 FINAL
Clemson-Zachery 5 pass from Dantzler (Hunt kick)
Ucf-Haynes 7 run (Beorlegui kick)
Clemson-Dantzler 16 run (Hunt kick)
Clemson-Scott 22 run (Hunt kick)
Ucf-Schneider 1 run (kick failed)
First downs 19 17
Rushed-yards 22-31 42-138
Passing yards 297 154
Sacked-yards lost 2-11 2-20
Return yards 19 37
Passes 29-47-0 15-25-0
Punts 7-44.3 6-43.8
Fumbles-lost 6-1 6-2
Penalties-yards 11-77 7-41
Time of possession 32:22 27:38
RUSHING: Ucf-Haynes 11-26, Baker 6-9, Gaines 0-8, Schneider
5-minus 12. Clemson-Zachery 15-48, Dantzler 18-46, Scott 1-22,
Rambert 4-19, Jasmin 2-4, Team 2-minus 1.
PASSING: Ucf-Schneider 29-47-0-297. Clemson-Dantzler 15-25-0-154.
RECEIVING: Ucf-T Davis 6-72, Ward 5-46, Haynes 5-38, Fryzel
4-64, Huggins 2-24, Gabriel 2-19, Baker 2-3, Jackson 1-18, J
Johnson 1-7, Gaines 1-6. Clemson-Zachery 5-41, Crosby 3-64,
Hamilton 3-13, Bailey 2-14, Hall 1-18, Woodward 1-4.