CLEMSON - On most occasions a 30-7 victory at home would be cause for
celebration. Saturday, it seemed like little more than just another day at
Clemson's third consecutive victory, this one over Ball State at Death
Valley, had all the excitement of a root canal and was just slightly more
Maybe it was a case of looking ahead to Florida State on Oct. 3, or perhaps
the wet, gloomy weather cast a pall over the proceedings. Whatever the
reason, the Tigers looked more lethargic than inspired for the first time in
"You worry about these games when you come out unemotional," Clemson head
coach Tommy Bowden said. "We didn't play with much emotion or discipline, but
I have to learn to enjoy the wins.
"I told my players after the game that we had penalties, we had turnovers, we
played uninspired, and we still won 30-7. That's not all bad."
Still, even the numbers were a bit deceiving.
Clemson (3-1) outgained Ball State in total yardage by plenty, 412-220, yet
it seemed to be the Cardinals controlling the line of scrimmage for much of
the afternoon. Marcus Merriweather helped BSU to a four minute advantage in
time of possession by rushing for 96 yards on 24 carries, most of which came
running straight at the Clemson front four.
When quarterback Talmadge Hill threw, he usually found his target. Hill
completed 16-of-23 passes, but because of the short-yardage nature of the
Cardinals' passing game accumulated just 138 yards.
The run-pass combination kept Clemson on its heels early and allowed Ball
State (1-2) to drive 77 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening drive,
setting the tone for much of the first half.
"We talked all week about coming out here, playing hard and not
underestimating (Ball State)," said Clemson freshman cornerback Justin
Miller. "But I think we did underestimate them, and we really didn't get it
turned around until the second half."
Fortunately the Clemson defense continued its early-season trend of forcing
turnovers, coming up with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. The
first fumble, by Merriweather, killed a potential scoring opportunity in
The second, a gaffe by Hill in which the ball slipped from his hands as he
cocked to throw, led to a quick three-play, 21-yard Clemson drive that
culminated with wide receiver Derrick Hamilton scoring on a 9-yard reverse
for a 17-7 lead inside the final two minutes of the first half.
And freshman Justin Miller's third quarter, circus-style interception of a
Hill deep ball at the Clemson 21 took away another potential Ball State
scoring chance and set up Willie Simmons' 9-yard touchdown pass to J.J.
McKelvey on the ensuing possession.
That made it 23-7, and the Tigers would put the game away with a final
touchdown drive led by Charlie Whitehurst late in the fourth quarter.
Whitehurst, in his first-ever college appearance, completed four consecutive
passes on the drive and polished it off with a one-yard TD plunge with just
"The turnovers were a very important aspect of the game," Bowden said. "The
defense is beginning to realize how important those things are, especially
the change in momentum. The last few games we've been able to score off
turnovers, which makes it double damage for the other team."
Clemson now has an 11-day break before hitting the road to Tallahassee, where
it will face Florida State Oct. 3 in a game ESPN will televise nationally.
After Saturday's performance, Bowden doesn't foresee another ho-hum effort in
his team's future.
"We shouldn't have any problem with playing with emotion for the next game,"
BALL ST CLEMSON
First downs 16 22
Rushed-yards 38-82 39-203
Passing yards 138 209
Sacked-yards lost 3-21 1-4
Return yards 12 64
Passes 16-23-2 21-29-1
Punts 4-42.3 2-35.5
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 8-62 9-100
Time of poss 32:04 27:56
Marcus Merriweather 24-96, Charles Wynn 4-17,
Scott Blair 4-9, Scott Volk 1-3, Talmadge Hill
Yusef Kelly 21-99, Tye Hill 10-43,
Derrick Hamilton 3-36, Willie Simmons 3-13,
Airese Currie 1-11, Charlie Whitehurst 1-1.
Talmadge Hill 16-23-138- 2.
Willie Simmons 17-25-188- 1.
Charlie Whitehurst 4-4-21- 0.
Sean Schembra 4-57, Ryan Hahaj 4-35,
Dante Ridgeway 4-24, Scott Blair 1-10,
Larry Bostic 1-10, Marcus Merriweather 1-1,
Mark Franklin 1-1.
JJ Mckelvey 10-123, Derrick Hamilton 4-29,
Jackie Robinson 3-28, Kevin Youngblood 2-14,
Tony Elliott 1-9, Airese Currie 1-6.
Ball State 7, Clemson 0
Scoring Drive: 13 plays, 77 yards in 6:29.
Scoring Play: Hill's 3-yard pass to Hahaj at 8:31.
Key Play: Defensive holding penalty on Clemson that nullified third down sack
on third play of drive.
Clemson 7, Ball State 7
Scoring Drive: 7 plays, 73 yards in 2:19.
Scoring Play: Kelly's 1-yard run at 11:41.
Key Play: Simmons' 50-yard pass to McKelvey to the BSU 1-yard line.
Clemson 10, Ball State 7
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 26 yards in 3:18.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 24-yard field goal at 6:01.
Key Play: None.
Clemson 17, Ball State 7
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 21 yards in 1:03.
Scoring Play: Hamilton's 9-yard run at 1:20.
Key Play: Simmons' 9-yard pass to Elliott to the BSU 9.
Clemson 24, Ball State 7
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards in 3:02.
Scoring Play: Simmons' 9-yard pass to McKelvey at 1:50.
Key Play: Kelly's 12-yard run to the 21 on third-and-3.
Clemson 30, Ball State 7
Scoring Drive: 12 plays, 54 yards in 5:04.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 1-yard dive at 1:21.
Key Play: Hill's 7-yard run to the BSU 1-yard line on third-and-7.