Heartbreak in Atlanta

by - Senior Writer -
A holding call erased this catch by Jacoby Ford that would have set the Tigers up to possibly win the game. (Photos by fotoman)

ATLANTA – So close, and yet so far.

The Clemson Tigers fell into a 24-point hole early in the second quarter, battled back to take the lead at 27-24 in the fourth quarter, then saw the 15th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets kick a field goal with 57 seconds remaining, giving the Jackets a 30-27 win and the Tigers another gut-wrenching loss in the series in front of 52,028 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium Thursday night.

“Tough night, came out on the short end of it,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. “I am sure it was a phenomenal ballgame to be sitting home with some popcorn and coke, watching it. But I will tell you this right now – I couldn’t be more proud of our kids, being down 24-0 on the road, in a tough environment, and they showed what they have got. And that is heart and toughness. And we had 27 unanswered points.

“That is not easy to do on the road. In the locker room at halftime, there was no doubt. They were focused, made adjustments, and took a 27-24 lead. We had a chance to win it at the end, but just like last year, we get another big holding call on the pass to Jacoby, and we weren’t able to overcome that.”

Perhaps the two brightest spots for the Tigers were the 224 yards of total offense by running back C.J. Spiller, and the continued emergence of quarterback Kyle Parker, who finished the night 15-for-31 for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

The Jackets notched the first score of the night on their second possession, with quarterback Josh Nesbitt pitching the football at the last second to trailing back Anthony Allen, who then rumbled 82 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and 7-0 Tech lead.

On Clemson’s ensuing possession, the Tigers lined up for what appeared to be a 57-yard field goal, but kicker Richard Jackson instead attempted a pooch-punt. Instead of angling the ball out bounds, Jackson’s kick sailed toward the left hash, where Jerrard Tarrant of Georgia Tech caught the kick at his own 15-yard line and took the kick the distance for a 14-0 Tech lead.

“I got my butt out-coached in the first half,” Swinney said. “We had the pooch field goal, and we were supposed to kick the ball out of bounds, and I didn’t communicate that very well.”

The Jackets scored on their next possession, too, lining up for an apparent field goal, but kicker Scott Blair instead lofted a pass to a wide open Demaryius Thomas for a 34-yard touchdown and a 21-0 Tech lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The last time the Tigers trailed by 21 points in the first quarter was back in November of 1999 in a 45-42 loss to Georgia Tech.

“I just really thought our guy would be open on the play,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “It is something that we have run before, and every time we have run the thing it has been successful. Our guys just went out and made a nice play and got it into the end zone.”

The Clemson defense held GT running back and ACC Preseason Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer in check all night. (Photos by fotoman)

Blair kicked a 24-yard field goal at 10:29 mark for a 24-0 lead, but the Tigers bounced back on their next possession. The Tigers took over at their own 37-yard line, and Parker hit a streaking Spiller down the left sideline for a 63-yard touchdown to cut the Jacket lead to 24-7. The pass was the first time all night the Tigers had gone vertical in an attempt to loosen up the Tech defense, which was playing anywhere from eight to ten players in the box to stop the Clemson running game.

The Tigers stymied the Jackets on their first drive of the second half, and Clemson took their first possession in for the second touchdown of the night. On third down just inside the Tech 10-yard line, Parker found tight end Dwayne Allen for the touchdown. Allen slid down to the ground, and was able to keep both of his hands under the ball for his first career catch and touchdown.

The Tigers then firmly got back into the game on their next possession, this one on another third down play. Facing third-and-seven at their own 23-yard line, Parker threw a strike to Jacoby Ford, who was coming on a crossing pattern 40 yards downfield, and Ford broke a tackle before running into the endzone for a 77-yard touchdown and a 24-21 game.

Richard Jackson tied the game early in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard field goal, and then following an interception by DeAndre McDaniel, the Tigers drove down and took their first lead of the night when Jackson drilled a 53-yard field goal that would have been good from 60-plus yards away. The field goal came at the 11:33 mark of the fourth quarter, and the momentum was rolling all in the favor of the Tigers.

However, the Jacket offense, which had been stymied since the opening flurry, made enough big plays, enabling Blair to tie the game at the 5:40 mark on a 34-yard field goal.

Clemson took the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers got a couple of nice runs from Andre Ellington, and then face a third-and-11 from their own 44-yard line. Parker took the snap, and hit Ford for an apparent 38-yard gain down to the Jacket 18-yard line, but the Tigers were called for holding on the play, and they eventually punted to Tech.

The same thing happened to the Tigers late in the game last season, and the sense of déjà-vu continued when Nesbitt, just like in 2008, hit Thomas on a big pass play. The 39-yard completion set up the game-winning kick by Blair, a 36-yarder, with 57 seconds remaining.

Swinney said that other than the special teams plays and a few breakdowns on defense, the Tigers were the better team.

“Outside of that, the Tigers dominated,” Swinney said. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have a special team this year. Maybe we’ll see this team somewhere again down the road. But this win wouldn’t have made our season, and this loss won’t cost us our season.”

Parker said he felt like the Tigers forged an offensive identity in the game, and the first drive of the second half was the turning point for his unit.

“That drive, being able to drive down and score, was huge, and then we scored the next drive after that,” Parker said. “After that, we got a certain confidence about us, and we realized that we should be here. We tried to keep it up, but unfortunately didn’t win. Any loss is tough, but we have to come out next weekend in another ACC game, at home, and win. Whenever you lose a tough one, you can’t let that loss beat you twice.”

Spiller rushed 20 times for 93 yards, while Ford caught five passes for 109 yards. Anthony Allen led the Jackets with 127 yards on just five carries, but the Tigers held Jonathan Dwyer to 73 yards on 18 carries.

CLEMSON             0 7 14 6 27 
GEORGIA TECH (15)  21 3 0  6 30 

Scoring Plays

GEORGIA TECH-TD, A Allen 82 YD RUN (S Blair KICK) 5:33 1st Qtr

GEORGIA TECH-TD, J Tarrant 85 YD PUNT RETURN (S Blair KICK) 8:05 1st Qtr

GEORGIA TECH-TD, D Thomas 34 YD PASS FROM S Blair (S Blair KICK) 12:22 1st Qtr

GEORGIA TECH-FG, S Blair 24 YD 4:31 2nd Qtr

CLEMSON-TD, C Spiller 63 YD PASS FROM K Parker (R Jackson KICK) 4:47 2nd Qtr

CLEMSON-TD, D Allen 9 YD PASS FROM K Parker (R Jackson KICK) 5:11 3rd Qtr

CLEMSON-TD, J Ford 77 YD PASS FROM K Parker (R Jackson KICK) 10:03 3rd Qtr

CLEMSON-FG, R Jackson 21 YD 0:43 4th Qtr

CLEMSON-FG, R Jackson 53 YD 3:27 4th Qtr

GEORGIA TECH-FG, S Blair 34 YD 9:20 4th Qtr

GEORGIA TECH-FG, S Blair 36 YD 14:03 4th Qtr

Game Statistics
   				CLEMSON         GEORGIA TECH (15)  
 First Downs  			13  		15 
 Yards Rushing  		36-125  	49-301 
 Yards Passing  		261  		117 
 Sacks - Yards Lost  		3-9  		0-0 
 Return Yards  			35  		87 
 Passing Efficiency  		15-32-2  	4-15-2 
 Punts  			6-30.7  	6-36.7 
 Fumbles-Lost  			2-0  		0-0 
 Penalties-Yards  		6-50  		6-50 
 Time of Possesion  		28:31  		31:29 

Individual Statistics - Rushing

CLEMSON-C.J. Spiller 20-87, Andre Ellington 3-21, Jamie Harper 4-12, Kyle Parker 7-4, Jacoby Ford 2-1. GEORGIA TECH-Anthony Allen 5-127, Josh Nesbitt 18-91, Jonathan Dwyer 18-66, Roddy Jones 5-11, Embry Peeples 2-8, Team 1-MINUS 2.

Individual Statistics - Passing

CLEMSON-Kyle Parker 15-31-261- 2, C.J. Spiller 0-1-0- 0. GEORGIA TECH-Josh Nesbitt 3-14-83- 2, Scott Blair 1-1-34- 0.

Individual Statistics - Receiving

CLEMSON-Jacoby Ford 5-109, C.J. Spiller 4-69, Marquan Jones 1-37, Terrance Ashe 2-18, Michael Palmer 1-16, Dwayne Allen 1-9, Rendrick Taylor 1-3. GEORGIA TECH-Demaryius Thomas 3-93, Anthony Allen 1-24.

Attendance: 52,029

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Subject (Replies: 29) Author
Heartbreak in Atlanta
Glad to hear Dabo admit being outcoached. Holding call bogus
was thinkin the same on Sweeny v Bowden & the holding call***
Two bad holding calls down the stretch
Same call on the punt
Our holding call was wrong. Theirs looked pretty legit.
Re: Heartbreak in Atlanta
Re: Heartbreak in Atlanta
Re: Heartbreak in Atlanta
Re: Heartbreak in Atlanta
Re: Heartbreak in Atlanta
That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
tigers baby
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
tigers baby
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
Re: That call did not cost us!...it just sealed the deal
What was the point of that fake FG that cost us the game?
idk why he didnt just line up and punt the ball...but the he
Re: What was the point of that fake FG that cost us the game?
Dead on correct. And to think we did it after calling TO
Re: Dead on correct. And to think we did it after calling TO
ranks up at the top with worst coaching decisions
Come on
Re: That was a bad coaching call
But not the worst of all time, geez***
Not the worst of all time, just bad enough to contribute to
Yep. That was a 7-10 point swing. FG could have worked.

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