Tigers Keep Bowl Hopes Alive with UVa Win


by - Senior Writer -
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C.J. Spiller hits Tyler Grisham in the end zone for a 15-yard TD. (Photo: Mike Ingalls, TheSabre.com)

The Clemson Tigers took another huge step toward bowl eligibility, and perhaps a permanent head coaching job for Dabo Swinney, on Saturday at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

The Tigers got a late, gut-check drive from their young offensive line and tailback James Davis, two key interceptions by the defense, and held on to win a hard-fought 13-3 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers in their last ACC game of the season.

In a game that was typical of so many the Tigers (6-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) have wound up losing the last few season, a slugfest at the line of scrimmage, the defense stood tall for the second straight week, allowing only 190 total yards, and the Tiger offense scored all of their points off of Virginia turnovers.

“These wins are hard to come by, and you’ve got to enjoy every one of them,” said Clemson intern head coach Dabo Swinney. “We enjoy every win any way we can get it. This is a group of kids who have been through a lot. It’s a very resilient team with a lot of character. I think that’s what you’re seeing. They’ve come together and they’re playing for what’s most important — each other.”

Clemson put the only touchdown of the game on the board early, following a Michael Hamlin interception of Virginia quarterback Marc Verica at the Cavalier 20-yard line. Spiller took the pitch from quarterback Cullen Harper, sprinted out wide, and hit Tyler Grisham in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and 7-0 Tiger lead.

The touchdown pass was the first of Spiller's illustrious career, and it marked the highlight for him on a day when the Cavalier defense focused on taking away his big-play ability.

On Virginia's next possession, Verica hit Rashawn Jackson with a short pass and Byron Maxwell came up to make the tackle, with the resulting hard hit popping the ball free. Jock McKissic recovered for the Tigers near midfield, and eight plays later Mark Buchholz kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

The Cavaliers had a first-and-goal at the nine on their next possession after driving 60 yards. However, they lost eight yards on its next three plays, and Robert Randolph kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 10-3 Clemson lead, which would hold up until the fourth quarter.

The game almost turned in Virginia's favor in the third quarter, when center Thomas Austin snapped the ball before Harper was ready on third-and-4 from Virginia's 23-yard line. Harper appeared to fall on the ball, but his tumble popped the ball free and Virginia's Vic Hall recovered for the Cavaliers at their 47.

On the next play, Verica hit Kevin Ogletree down the left sideline with, Sadat Chambers in one-on-one coverage, for an apparent tying touchdown, but the officials flagged him for offensive pass interference, despite replays showing differently. Three plays later, Virginia was forced to punt, ending that drive.

“We just had trouble converting when we needed the chance to get some points, especially when we were down in the red zone,” stated Olgetree. “We just have to get points out of drives more. That’s what we’ve got to do—it takes points to win the game and we didn’t have enough today. We held them to 13 points so the offense has to do a better job.”

The Cavaliers drove to the Tigers' 27 on their next possession and went for it on fourth-and-1, but Maxwell made another huge play when he tackled tailback Cedric Peerman for a 5-yard loss.

“He has been playing a lot of football and he’s starting to emerge as the big, physical corner,” said Swinney. “He’ll hit you with his eyes open. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing some critical roles for us.”

After another three-and-out for the Tigers, Clemson's Crezdon Butler intercepted a Verica pass and returned it 31 yards to Virginia's 36-yard line, setting up Buchholz's second field goal of the game that produced the final score.

On that drive, the offensive line paved the way for Davis on several carries, perhaps giving a glimmer of the potential Clemson coaches have been talking about season.

“We had a lot of momentum and [Virginia] had an off week,” said Davis. “I think that kind of helped us, having that momentum coming from our last game and bringing it here. Going out there with that passion to win the game, I think that brought a lot to the table.”

Clemson won despite converting just 5-of-18 third down opportunities, and gaining just 56 total rushing yards on 39 attempts. Davis led Clemson with 65 yards on 18 carries, while Harper was 18-for-28 for just 121 yards.


Clemson (6-5,4-4) vs. Virginia (5-6,3-4)
Date: Nov 22, 2008  Site: Charlottesville, Va.  Stadium: Smith/Harrison/Scott
Attendance: 51979

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson.............  7  3  0  3  - 13
Virginia............  0  3  0  0  -  3

Scoring Summary:
1st 03:23 CU - Tyler Grisham 15 yd pass from C.J. Spiller (Mark Buchholz kick)
                                                    1 play, 20 yards, TOP 0:28, CU 7 - UVA 0
2nd 10:47 CU - Mark Buchholz 32 yd field goal
                                                  8 plays, 36 yards, TOP 4:13, CU 10 - UVA 0
    05:36 UVA - Robert Randolph 34 yd field goal
                                                 13 plays, 60 yards, TOP 5:11, CU 10 - UVA 3
4th 02:37 CU - Mark Buchholz 23 yd field goal
                                                 10 plays, 30 yards, TOP 4:50, CU 13 - UVA 3

Kickoff time: 12:11 pm  End of Game: 3:13 pm   Total elapsed time: 3:02
Officials: Referee: Tom DeJoseph; Umpire: Donald Yates; Linesman: Troy Gray;
Line judge: Rick Page; Back judge: Ron Boyd; Field judge: Mike Cullin;
Side judge: Eddie Bonet;
Temperature: 35        Wind: W 5       Weather: clear


Team Statistics 

                                     CU      UVA

FIRST DOWNS...................       13       13
  Rushing.....................        6        2
  Passing.....................        6       10
  Penalty.....................        1        1
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       56       30
  Rushing Attempts............       39       24
  Average Per Rush............      1.4      1.2
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        0        0
  Yards Gained Rushing........      105       59
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       49       29
NET YARDS PASSING.............      136      160
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  19-29-0  24-39-3
  Average Per Attempt.........      4.7      4.1
  Average Per Completion......      7.2      6.7
  Passing Touchdowns..........        1        0
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      192      190
  Total offense plays.........       68       63
  Average Gain Per Play.......      2.8      3.0
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      1-1      1-1
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     3-35     4-40
PUNTS-YARDS...................    6-246    5-179
  Average Yards Per Punt......     41.0     35.8
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     39.5     34.8
  Inside 20...................        2        3
  50+ Yards...................        1        0
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
  Fair catch..................        2        3
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    4-260    2-127
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     65.0     63.5
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     46.8     44.5
  Touchbacks..................        0        1
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.    2-5-0    1-9-0
  Average Per Return..........      2.5      9.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD   1-18-0   4-73-0
  Average Per Return..........     18.0     18.2
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..   3-34-0    0-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        4
Possession Time...............    32:00    28:00
  1st Quarter.................     4:34    10:26
  2nd Quarter.................     9:28     5:32
  3rd Quarter.................     8:59     6:01
  4th Quarter.................     8:59     6:01
Third-Down Conversions........  5 of 18  5 of 15
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 2   0 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      3-3      1-1
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-13      0-0
PAT Kicks.....................      1-1      0-0
Field Goals...................      2-3      1-1




 Individual Statistics 

Clemson

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
James Davis          18   67    2   65  0  8  3.6
C.J. Spiller         14   31   13   18  0  6  1.3
Cullen Harper         2    5    2    3  0  5  1.5
Jacoby Ford           1    2    0    2  0  2  2.0
TEAM                  4    0   32  -32  0  0 -8.0
Totals...            39  105   49   56  0  8  1.4

Passing              Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Cullen Harper          28-18-0   121  0   17    0
C.J. Spiller            1-1-0     15  1   15    0
Totals...              29-19-0   136  1   17    0

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Jacoby Ford             6   42    0   17
Aaron Kelly             5   30    0    9
Tyler Grisham           4   34    1   15
C.J. Spiller            2   16    0   14
James Davis             2   14    0    9
Totals...              19  136    1   17

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Jimmy Maners            6  246  41.0   50    2    0
Totals...               6  246  41.0   50    2    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
C.J. Spiller          2   5  3  1  18 18  0   0  0
DeAndre McDaniel      0   0  0  0   0  0  1   1  1
Crezdon Butler        0   0  0  0   0  0  1  31 31
Michael Hamlin        0   0  0  0   0  0  1   2  2
Totals...             2   5  3  1  18 18  3  34 31

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Mark Buchholz        2nd 10:47  32 yds - Good
Mark Buchholz        2nd 00:00  58 yds - Returned
Mark Buchholz        4th 02:37  23 yds - Good

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Buchholz, M        4  260   0   0  65.0


Virginia

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Cedric Peerman       19   56   11   45  0  9  2.4
Rashawn Jackson       1    2    0    2  0  2  2.0
Kevin Ogletree        2    1    5   -4  0  1 -2.0
Marc Verica           2    0   13  -13  0  0 -6.5
Totals...            24   59   29   30  0  9  1.2

Passing              Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Marc Verica            39-24-3   160  0   19    2
Totals...              39-24-3   160  0   19    2

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Kevin Ogletree          6   73    0   16
Cedric Peerman          6   21    0   11
Cary Koch               5   39    0   19
M. Covington            4   20    0    9
Rashawn Jackson         2    2    0    7
John Phillips           1    5    0    5
Totals...              24  160    0   19

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Jimmy Howell            5  179  35.8   38    3    0
Totals...               5  179  35.8   38    3    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
C. Minnifield         0   0  0  1  22 22  0   0  0
Rodney McLeod         0   0  0  3  51 21  0   0  0
Vic Hall              1   9  9  0   0  0  0   0  0
Totals...             1   9  9  4  73 22  0   0  0

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Robert Randolph      2nd 05:36  34 yds - Good

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Y. Reyering        2  127   1   0  63.5

FUMBLES: Clemson-TEAM 1-1. Virginia-Rashawn Jackson 1-1.

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