Tigers Get Two Big Returns, Strong Play From Defense in Win Over MTSU


by - Senior Writer -
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C.J. Spiller took the first play of the season 96 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Clemson lead.

CLEMSON – The Clemson defense is as good as advertised and so are the return skills of Clemson’s C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.

The Clemson defense harassed Middle Tennessee State for 60 minutes, and Spiller and Ford each returned a kick for a touchdown as the Tigers (1-0) rolled to a 37-14 victory over the Blue Raiders (0-1) in the season opener for both teams in front of an announced crowd of 75,000 at Death Valley on Saturday.

Spiller set the tone for his Heisman campaign on the opening kickoff of the game, receiving the ball at the four-yard line, slashing up the right hash, then breaking across the field at the 30 and taking the first play of the season 96 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Clemson lead. The play marks the first time in Clemson history they have returned the opening kickoff of the season for a touchdown.

In fact, the play excited Spiller so much that he hyperventilated and had to miss the next two series while he caught his breath.

“They [the return teams] did a super job right out of the gate,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “How many times is the first play of the season a 96-yard touchdown? That was a pretty good way to start C.J. Spiller’s senior season, with a bang. But he got so hyper and so jacked up that he had to sit out a couple of series, and then on a punt return later he got tackled and got hurt, so with the short week, I decided to keep him out. He could have gone back in and played, but with the short turnaround, I thought that was the smart thing to do.”

Spiller said he pulled a hamstring on the play in which he got hurt, but felt the injury was minor and that he would be ready to go this Thursday against Georgia Tech.

“I just tweaked the back of the hammy,” Spiller said after the game. “I can guarantee you that I will be ready to go [on Thursday.] I am fine. Coach Swinney did a good job of holding me out in the second half, and we can focus on Georgia Tech, which will be a tough game. Tonight, it was just great to get the win.”

The Tigers missed a field goal on their second possession, but Richard Jackson followed his 45-yard miss with a 22-yard field goal to put Clemson up 10-0 with 5:16 remaining in the first quarter.


Early in the second quarter, the Tigers inserted Willy Korn in at quarterback, and on his second play he fumbled the football while attempting to bring his arm up for a pass, and the Blue Raiders’ Chris McCoy snatched the ball out of the air and rumbled 68 yards for a touchdown, trimming the Clemson advantage to just three at 10-7.

Jackson hit a 19-yard field on the Tigers’ next possession, and on the Blue Raiders’ next possession the Tigers forced a punt, and Ford snagged the ball at his own 39-yard and split the return team for a 69-yard touchdown and a 20-7 Clemson lead.

On Clemson’s ensuing possession, the Tiger offense finally got into gear when quarterback Kyle Parker hit Ford on a short curl route and Ford outraced the defense into the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown and a 27-7 advantage with 2:55 remaining in the half.

Jackson hit a 44-yard field goal with just 1:15 remaining in the second quarter, and Clemson capped the opening two quarters of the season with a 30-7 halftime lead over MTSU.

The Blue Raider offense scored on the opening possession of the second half, driving 85 yards in just seven plays, culminating when quarterback Dwight Dasher hit Chris McClover on an 18-yard scoring strike into the left corner of the end zone.


Kyle Parker threw two touchdown passes and was the third leading rusher for the Tigers.


Clemson’s Chris Chancellor intercepted Dasher two drives later, and the Tigers took prompt advantage. Parker was flushed out of the pocket on third down, then rolled to his right and threw back across his body to a streaking Marquan Jones, who cradled the pass for a 33-yard touchdown and a 37-14 Tiger lead that wound up being the last points scored in the game.

“The goal was to win tonight, and we achieved the win,” Swinney said in his post-game press conference. “Middle Tennessee played strong throughout the game, and they will be a very competitive team in their conference. Our kids had a solid game. Our defense was solid tonight, until the end of the game. Special teams showed up today as well. C.J. Spiller had an impressive 170 all-purpose yards and only played in one half. These guys showed great leadership tonight.”

Parker was solid if not spectacular 9-for-20 for 159 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers include four drops, two of which could have led to scores. He also rushed seven times for 44 yards, and Swinney said he was proud of his young quarterback.

“He was outstanding today,” Swinney said of Parker. “He missed one throw all night, and there were about four big drops from our receivers tonight. He was dead on all night. He made big plays with his feet and showed a lot of poise. I was really proud of him tonight. He has a good presence and great instincts and has the ability to make big plays.”

Parker said he thought his first collegiate start went as well as could be expected.

“There are some things I can do better, but that will come with experience,” Parker said. “I thought I did pretty well, made good decisions for the most part. There were two throws I wish I could take back, but for the most part I thought I did a pretty good job.”

The Clemson defense was led by Brandon Maye’s 13 tackles. Maye was wearing No. 17 in honor of Stanley Hunter, and also had an interception to add to his statistics. DeAndre McDaniel added 12 tackles for a defense that tallied three sacks and three interceptions.


Attendance: 75000

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Middle Tennessee....  0  7  7  0  - 14
Clemson............. 10 20  7  0  - 37



Scoring Summary:
1st 14:46 CU - C.J. Spiller 96 yd kickoff return (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                                                 MT 0 - CU 7
    05:16 CU - Richard Jackson 22 yd field goal
                                                   9 plays, 29 yards, TOP 4:02, MT 0 - CU 10
2nd 14:07 MT - McCoy, Chris 68 yd fumble recovery (Gendreau, Alan kick)
                                                                                MT 7 - CU 10
    08:16 CU - Richard Jackson 19 yd field goal
                                                  11 plays, 57 yards, TOP 5:45, MT 7 - CU 13
    06:02 CU - Jacoby Ford 61 yd punt return (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                                                MT 7 - CU 20
    02:55 CU - Jacoby Ford 43 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                    1 play, 43 yards, TOP 0:09, MT 7 - CU 27
    01:15 CU - Richard Jackson 44 yd field goal
                                                   5 plays, 23 yards, TOP 0:56, MT 7 - CU 30
3rd 12:29 MT - McClover, Chris 18 yd pass from Dasher, Dwight (Gendreau, Alan kick)
                                                  7 plays, 85 yards, TOP 2:25, MT 14 - CU 30
    09:04 CU - Marquan Jones 33 yd pass from Kyle Parker (Richard Jackson kick)
                                                  3 plays, 32 yards, TOP 1:13, MT 14 - CU 37



Kickoff time: 6:00 PM   End of Game: 9:10 PM   Total elapsed time: 3:10
Officials: Referee: Tom McCreesh; Umpire: Rich McMahan; Linesman: Perry Hudspeth;
Line judge: T. Hardison; Back judge: Tommy Pace; Field judge: Milton Hagans;
Side judge: Heriberto Bonet;
Temperature: 86 deg    Wind: Calm      Weather: Mostly Sunny

Team Statistics 

                                     MT       CU

FIRST DOWNS...................       18       18
  Rushing.....................        9       12
  Passing.....................        8        5
  Penalty.....................        1        1
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       92      202
  Rushing Attempts............       37       47
  Average Per Rush............      2.5      4.3
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        0        0
  Yards Gained Rushing........      139      235
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       47       33
NET YARDS PASSING.............      207      159
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  21-44-3   9-21-1
  Average Per Attempt.........      4.7      7.6
  Average Per Completion......      9.9     17.7
  Passing Touchdowns..........        1        2
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      299      361
  Total offense plays.........       81       68
  Average Gain Per Play.......      3.7      5.3
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      6-0      3-1
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     3-18     4-40
PUNTS-YARDS...................    7-269    3-129
  Average Yards Per Punt......     38.4     43.0
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     19.1     43.0
  Inside 20...................        0        2
  50+ Yards...................        1        1
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
  Fair catch..................        0        3
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    3-152    8-526
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     50.7     65.8
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......      2.7     47.8
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.    0-0-0  5-135-1
  Average Per Return..........      0.0     27.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  8-144-0  3-144-1
  Average Per Return..........     18.0     48.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..    1-0-0   3-39-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.   1-68-1    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    30:22    29:38
  1st Quarter.................     5:37     9:23
  2nd Quarter.................     7:27     7:33
  3rd Quarter.................     8:23     6:37
  4th Quarter.................     8:55     6:05
Third-Down Conversions........  9 of 20  4 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 4   1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      1-3      2-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     1-11     3-18
PAT Kicks.....................      2-2      4-4
Field Goals...................      0-0      3-5

Individual Statistics 


Middle Tennessee

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Dasher, Dwight       19   88   27   61  0 11  3.2
Tanner, Phillip      10   36    0   36  0 16  3.6
Banks, Andrew         3    9    2    7  0  7  2.3
Kyles, D.D.           3    6    2    4  0  4  1.3
Gee, Desmond          1    0    2   -2  0  0 -2.0
TEAM                  1    0   14  -14  0  0 -14.0
Totals...            37  139   47   92  0 16  2.5

Passing              Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Dasher, Dwight         20-42-3   204  1   43    3
Banks, Andrew           1-2-0      3  0    3    0
Totals...              21-44-3   207  1   43    3

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Blissard, Shane         4   68    0   43
Honeycutt, P.           4   17    0    7
Andrews, G.             3   22    0    9
Delle Donne, G.         2   14    0   11
Gee, Desmond            2   12    0    9
Caldwell, Wes           2    9    0    8
Tanner, Phillip         1   28    0   28
McDonald, S.            1   19    0   19
McClover, Chris         1   18    1   18
Kyles, D.D.             1    0    0    0
Totals...              21  207    1   43

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
DeFatta, David          7  269  38.4   52    0    0
Totals...               7  269  38.4   52    0    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
Gee, Desmond          0   0  0  6 117 29  0   0  0
Tanner, Phillip       0   0  0  1  17 17  0   0  0
Udell, Marcus         0   0  0  0   0  0  1   0  0
Suber, Alex           0   0  0  1  10 10  0   0  0
Totals...             0   0  0  8 144 29  1   0  0

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Gendreau, Alan     3  152   0   0  50.7


Clemson

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Jamie Harper         15   76    1   75  0 12  5.0
Andre Ellington       9   72    0   72  0 36  8.0
Kyle Parker           7   44   19   25  0 18  3.6
Rendrick Taylor       9   22    0   22  0  7  2.4
C.J. Spiller          4   12    0   12  0  5  3.0
Jacoby Ford           1    9    0    9  0  9  9.0
TEAM                  1    0    3   -3  0  0 -3.0
Willy Korn            1    0   10  -10  0  0 -10.0
Totals...            47  235   33  202  0 36  4.3

Passing              Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Kyle Parker            9-20-0    159  2   43    1
Willy Korn              0-1-1      0  0    0    0
Totals...              9-21-1    159  2   43    1

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Jacoby Ford             3   70    1   43
Marquan Jones           2   71    1   38
Chad Diehl              1   13    0   13
Xavier Dye              1    4    0    4
Rendrick Taylor         1    3    0    3
Jamie Harper            1   -2    0    0
Totals...               9  159    2   43

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Dawson Zimmerman        3  129  43.0   51    2    0
Totals...               3  129  43.0   51    2    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
Jacoby Ford           3  72 61  1  39 39  0   0  0
Chad Diehl            0   0  0  1   9  9  0   0  0
Brandon Maye          0   0  0  0   0  0  1   2  2
Chris Chancellor      0   0  0  0   0  0  1  37 37
DeAndre McDaniel      0   0  0  0   0  0  1   0  0
C.J. Spiller          2  63 50  1  96 96  0   0  0
Totals...             5 135 61  3 144 96  3  39 37

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Richard Jackson      1st 09:25  45 yds - Missed
Richard Jackson      1st 05:16  22 yds - Good
Richard Jackson      2nd 08:16  19 yds - Good
Richard Jackson      2nd 01:15  44 yds - Good
Richard Jackson      4th 05:43  48 yds - Missed

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Benton, S          8  526   0   0  65.8

FUMBLES: Middle Tennessee-TEAM 3-0; Tanner, Phillip 1-0; 
Suber, Alex 1-0; Dasher, Dwight 1-0. Clemson-Willy Korn 1-1; 
Kyle Parker 1-0; Rendrick Taylor 1-0.

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