Tigers Come Up Short in Athens


by - Correspondent -
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Defensive end Bryant McNeal returns a fumble 55 yards for a TD.

ATHENS, Ga. - Fans of both Clemson and Georgia had long anticipated the
renewal of this storied rivalry.


And for one late August night, they weren't disappointed.


Georgia rallied from seven points down in the fourth quarter to beat Clemson
Saturday night, 31-28, at Sanford Stadium in Athens before a sellout crowd of
over 86,500. It was the first game between the schools since 1995.


The matchup featured its share of drama, as the score would attest, but also
held many of the mistakes typical of a season-opening contest for both teams.


POST GAME INTERVIEWS
Tommy Bowden - Real | Windows Media Willie Simmons - Real | Windows Media


Clemson (0-1) fumbled six times - though it recovered every one - and
quarterback Willie Simmons (17-of-37, 165 yards) threw one interception which
ultimately led to a Georgia touchdown. Meanwhile, the No. 8 Bulldogs (1-0)
lost two fumbles - one of which was returned for a Clemson touchdown - and
quarterback David Greene (12-of-21, 67) also was intercepted once.


But down the stretch, it was Georgia who put it together when it mattered
most and rallied for a victory that now gives it a 40-17-4 advantage in the
all-time series, including 20-2 at Sanford Stadium.


The Bulldogs started the road back early in the fourth quarter when Damien
Gary returned a short Wynn Kopp punt all the way to the Clemson 31. Three
plays later, freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley found Terrence Edwards alone
over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown pass.


The extra point tied the game at 28-28 with 12:35 to go.


Later, after teams exchanged punts, Georiga's Billy Bennett capped a short
19-yard drive with a 43-yard field goal with 5:19 left for a 31-28 lead.


Clemson tried to answer on the next possession, moving from its own 38 to the
Bulldog 29 before the drive stalled. Kicker Aaron Hunt came on to attempt a
46-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but the attempt fell short.


Georgia took over with 1:43 left and ran out the clock behind tailback Musa
Smith (23 carries, 105 yards), giving the Bulldogs their fourth consecutive
victory over the Tigers.


Trailing 21-7, Clemson began the road back late in the first half.


Beginning with just 1:24 left in the second quarter, Simmons drove the Tigers
64 yards in nine plays. The drive culminated with the junior quarterback
finding Kevin Youngblood in the end zone from 23 yards out with just :08
left.


The score came five plays after Hamilton dropped what would have been a
50-yard touchdown pass from Simmons, and cut the lead to 21-14.


The Tigers tied it in the third quarter when defensive end Bryant McNeal
scooped up a fumbled pitch by Musa Smith and rumbled 55 yards for the
touchdown, and had a golden opportunity to immediately take the lead when
LeRoy Hill recovered Fred Gibson's fumble on the ensuing kickoff a the
Bulldogs' 21.


But after three plays netted just one yard, Aaron Hunt's 37-yard field goal
attempt hit the right upright.


Georgia's offense could muster nothing on the next possession, however, and
Clemson took over again at its own 24 after Kilgo's 48-yard punt.


This time the Tigers took advantage of the opportunity. Simmons drove Clemson
76 yards in 10 plays, completing a key 22-yard pass to J.J. McKelvey on a
third-and-10 play to keep the drive alive at his own 46.


Yusef Kelly capped off the drive with a one-yard run, and Aaron Hunt's PAT
made it 28-21 Clemson with 2:25 left in the third quarter.


Georgia had gained the early advantage thanks to turnovers, penalties and
special teams mistakes by Clemson.


The Bulldogs first score - a five-yard pass from Greene to Damien Gary - was
set up after a Simmons interception in the end zone. Greene drove Georgia 80
yards for the score.


The drive was twice kept alive by dead ball personal foul penalties on
Clemson after the Tigers had stopped Georgia short of the first down.


After Clemson tied it 7-7 on Bernard Rambert's one-yard run, the Tigers were
whistled for offside on the ensuing kickoff. Forced to rekick, the Tigers'
coverage team suffered a meltdown and allowed Fred Gibson to go 90 yards for
a touchdown with 10:54 left in the half, making it 14-7.


Georgia took advantage of more poor special teams play to go up 21-7 on its
next possession. Clemson's Wynn Kopp managed a punt of just 18 yards after
the Bulldog defense held, and Georgia's Thomas Davis returned it 19 yards to
the Tiger 15.


Three plays later, freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley ran nine yards for a
score that gave Georgia the two touchdown lead.


Scoring Summary


First Quarter

Georgia 7, Clemson 0, :41

Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 80 yards in 4:04

Scoring Play: David Greene's 5-yard pass to Damien Gray.

Key Play: Two personal foul penalties on the Tigers that kept the drive alive
following Georgia misfires on third down.



Second Quarter

Clemson 7, Georgia 7, 11:23

Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 30 yards, :26)

Scoring Play: Bernard Rambert's 1-yard run.

Key Play: Willie Simmons' 16-yard run to the Georgia 9-yard line.



Georiga 14, Clemson 7, 10:54

Scoring Drive: None

Scoring Play: Fred Gibson's 90-yard kickoff return.

Key Play: Clemson offside on previous kick, forcing rekick which Gibson took
to the house.



Georgia 21, Clemson 7, 8:10

Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 15 yards

Scoring Play: D.J. Shockley's nine-yard run.

Key Play: Scoring play.



Georgia 21, Clemson 14, :08

Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 64 yards in 1:16

Scoring Play: Willie Simmons' 23-yard pass to Kevin Youngblood. Key Play: 20-yard completion from Simmons to Tony Elliott on third-and-3 from
the Clemson 43.



Third Quarter

Clemson 21, Georgia 21, 9:54

Scoring Drive: None

Scoring Play: Defensive end Bryant McNeal's 55-yard fumble return for a
touchdown.

Key Play: Scoring play.



Clemson 28, Georgia 21, 2:25

Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 76 yards in 4:43.

Scoring Play: Kelly 1-yard TD run.

Key Play: Third-and-10 completion to McKelvey for 22 yards to the Clemson 46.



Fourth Quarter

Clemson 28, Georgia 28, 12:35

Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 31 yards in 1:34

Scoring Play: D.J. Shockley 24-yard pass to Edwards.

Key Play: Shockley 12-yard pass to Gibson on second-and-14 from Clemson 35.



Georgia 31, Clemson 28, 5:19

Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 19 yards in 2:04

Scoring Play: Bennett's 43-yard field goal.

Key Play: None


Box Score

TEAM STATISTICS
 	                Clemson	Georgia
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS	19	14
Passing            	8	4
Rushing           	9	8
Penalty             	2	2
3rd-Down Efficiency	7-17	5-16
4th-Down Efficiency	0-0	1-1
 
TOTAL NET YARDS 	233	203
Total plays       	75	66
Average gain       	3.1	3.1
 
NET YARDS RUSHING	68	86
Rushes               	34	39
Average per rush	2.0	2.2
 
NET YARDS PASSING	165	117
Completion-attempted	17-37	15-25
Yards per pass  	4.0	4.3
Sacked-yards lost	4-41	2-17
Had intercepted 	1	1
 
PUNTS-AVERAGE      	8-37.3	6-37.2
 
RETURN YARDAGE       	100	82
Punts-yards     	5-28	4-82
Kickoffs-yards  	5-80	5-121
Interceptions-yards	1-17	1-0
 
PENALTIES-YARDS 	6-60	8-53
FUMBLES-LOST      	6-0	3-2
TIME OF POSSESSION	30:41	29:19
 

Passing
CLEMSON  	CMP	ATT	YDS	TD	INT
Willie Simmons	17	37	165	1	1
GEORGIA  	CMP	ATT	YDS	TD	INT
David Greene	12	21	67	1	1
D.J. Shockley	3	4	50	1	0

Rushing
CLEMSON   	ATT	YDS	TD
Bernard Rambert	10	35	1
Chad Jasmin	5	30	0
D Hamilton	3	18	0
Yusef Kelly	5	17	1
Willie Simmons	8	-29	0
GEORGIA  	ATT	YDS	TD
Musa Smith	23	105	0
D.J. Shockley	5	10	1
Tony Milton	2	5	0
J.T. Wall	1	0	0
Fred Gibson	1	-6	0
David Greene	4	-26	0

Receiving
CLEMSON    	REC	YDS	TD
K Youngblood	6	66	1
J.J. McKelvey	2	24	0
Jackie Robinson	2	17	0
Bernard Rambert	2	12	0
Yusef Kelly	2	4	0
Tony Elliott	1	20	0
Airese Currie	1	12	0
Ben Hall	1	10	0
GEORGIA 	REC	YDS	TD
Musa Smith	4	16	0
T Edwards	3	35	1
Fred Gibson	3	28	0
Reggie Brown	2	21	0
Damien Gary	2	13	1
Benjamin Watson	1	4	0

Punting
CLEMSON  	PUNTS	YDS	LONG
Wynn Kopp	8	298	47
GEORGIA 	PUNTS	YDS	LONG
Jonathan Kilgo	6	223	48

Kick Returns
CLEMSON 	RET	YDS	LONG
D Hamilton	4	62	26
Jackie Robinson	1	18	18
GEORGIA	RET	YDS	LONG
Fred Gibson	2	94	91
T Edwards	2	22	20
Jarrett Berry	1	5	5

Punt Returns
CLEMSON  	RET	YDS	LONG
Brian Mance	3	26	13
D Hamilton	2	2	2
GEORGIA	       RET	YDS	LONG
Damien Gary	3	64	40
Thomas Davis	1	18	18

Interceptions
CLEMSON  	INT	YDS
Kelvin Morris	1	17
GEORGIA 	INT	YDS
Decory Bryant	1	0

ATTENDANCE: 86,250

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