Instant Analysis: Tigers make history in win over Hokies
|Saturday, September 30, 2017, 11:43 PM- -|
BLACKSBURG, VA – The cream always rises to the top, and in Clemson’s third Top-15 matchup, the Tigers did just that.
Clemson (5-0 overall, 3-0 ACC) has played three Top-15 teams in September – Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech – and after a 31-17 win over the Hokies (4-1, 0-1) Saturday night at Lane Stadium, the second-ranked Tigers are the only team in the country to accomplish such a feat.
The Tigers became the first team ever (in the AP era) to beat three Top-15 teams before Oct. 1.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: A running quarterback has been Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s kryptonite and Saturday was no different. Kelly Bryant made the Hokies pay with his legs and made just enough plays with his arm to keep the defense honest. Bryant carried the ball 19 times for 94 yards – a 4.9 yard per carry clip. He completed 12-of-21 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dorian O’Daniel continued his stellar season Saturday night. The Maryland native had 10 tackles, a sack for an eight yard loss, recovered a fumble caused by Dexter Lawrence and had a pick-six – the second of the season and his career.
O’Daniel is the first Clemson player to have two interception returns for touchdowns in the same season since 1990 when Arlington Nunn had three. He is the first defensive player to score two touchdowns in the same season since Kourtnei Brown had an interception return and a fumble return for scores in 2011. Both of those scores were in the same game against North Carolina.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Spence gets his first: Clemson drove down the field on its first possession but was stymied on the goal line after a false start penalty on third down. Alex Spence lined up for his first career field goal and knocked it through from 23 yards to put the Tigers on the board with a 3-0 lead.
Feaster’s first receptions: On the ensuing possession, Tavien Feaster notched his first and second career receptions. The second was pass in the flat and a 60-yard race to the endzone for his first receiving touchdown.
Special team’s woes: The punting game has been pretty good through the first four games, but outside of a 51-yard punt, Saturday night was a struggle. Early in the fourth quarter, Spiers booted a line drive that was returned 43 yards to the two-yard line, setting up Virginia Tech’s first touchdown of the night, making it a 24-10 ballgame. Elsewhere in the kicking game, Spence missed a 41-yard field goal in the first half and reserve Christian Groomes kicked a kickoff out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
O’Daniel to the rescue: After the punt return and the Hokie touchdown, Clemson’s offense struggled to move the ball, giving the Hokies all of the momentum. However, a tipped pass by the Tech receiver landed in the hands of O’Daniel who returned the interception 22-yards for the touchdown, giving Clemson a 31-10 lead and a little breathing room.
STAT OF THE GAME: When Clemson scored on Spence’s field goal on the opening possession, it marked the 14th time in the last 36 games that Clemson scored on its opening possession or since Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott became co-coordinators. The Tigers have 12 touchdowns and two field goals on opening possessions in those 36 games.
UP NEXT: Clemson will be back in Death Valley next Saturday for a high-noon matchup with Wake Forest, who lost in heartbreaking fashion to Florida State. It is Homecoming for the Tigers.
Virginia Tech travels to Boston College for a primetime matchup. The Eagles defeated Central Michigan 28-8 on Saturday.