Tigers Sluggish in 28-17 victory over Furman

by - Correspondent -
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72-yard touchdown catch for Airese Currie
72-yard touchdown catch for Airese Currie

CLEMSON - Whether classified as another lethargic effort by Clemson or a gutsy performance from Furman, the fact remains that Saturday's 28-17 Tigers' win over the Paladins answered very few questions about Tommy Bowden's team.

Only an efficient passing day by quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and a pair of fortuitous bounces that went Clemson's way kept Furman (1-1) from doing the unthinkable - and in Death Valley no less.

As it was, Clemson's first victory of the season came with precious little satisfaction to the announced crowd of 70,000, who watched as Tommy Bowden's team again struggled while trying to establish the run.

The Tigers (1-1) rushed for just 124 yards on 40 carries, or 3.1 yards per attempt. Clemson also committed 11 penalties for 111 yards, which helped short-circuit the offense on a number of occasions.

"The penalties just killed us," Bowden said. "So many were on punt returns and we weren't good enough to overcome them."

But, according to senior linebacker John Leake, at this point any victory was a good victory.

"All we asked for was a win," he said. "We're happy about that. We'll look at the film Monday and then correct the mistakes. We had a lot of penalties and we definitely have to correct that."

Fortunately for Clemson Whitehurst was locked in from the beginning. He finished with 301 yards passing (23-of-31) with a pair of touchdown passes and only one interception.

The second of Whitehurst's scoring passes was credited to him because of a scoring rule on the game's most unusual play - a play which ultimately proved to be huge when Furman tried to rally late.

On first-and-10 from the Paladin 14 with less than a minute remaining in the first half, Whitehurst's pass attempt was batted in the air by Furman defensive end Travis Jones and into the hands of Clemson offensive tackle William Henry. Henry rambled five yards before the ball was jarred loose by a hit from Furman's Roy Ravenell.

But Clemson tailback Duane Coleman scooped up the loose ball at the 9-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown with :41 left in the half, a score which goes in the books as a TD pass for Whitehurst according to official NCAA statistics.

Coleman's touchdown made it 28-7 Clemson, and loomed large when the Paladins rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter - a Brian Bratton 3-yard scoring run and a 40-yard field goal by Danny Marshall with 7:50 to go.

The Paladins only got one further full possession after Marshall's kick, but couldn't advance the ball past their own 47 yard line.

"In our game plan we were running screen passes and draw plays on third-and-long situations, and we though that we really wanted to go ahead and try for the points," Furman coach Bobby Lamb said when asked why he chose to have Marshall kick the field goal rather than go for it on fourth down, trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter.

"We thought that we could get the points better if we could get the first down because of their strong pass rush and their two ends."

Clemson's other lucky bounce came courtesy of a bad pitch by Furman quarterback Bo Moore on an option. Defensive end J.J. Howard picked up the errant toss in the Paladin backfield and ran 17 yards for a 21-7 Clemson lead midway through the second quarter.

"The last time I scored a touchdown was my senior year in high school," Howard said with a laugh. "I saw the ball sitting there and I said to myself, 'I'll take it.'"

The Tigers turned somewhat conservative in the second half, attempting only 13 passes in 35 offensive plays. The 22 rushes netted 79 yards, a slight improvement over the first half numbers but still not enough to elicit much confidence.

Still, Bowden said he'll continue to run the football, and continue to do it playing a number of younger players.

"We want to keep putting them in, forcing them to get some playing time so that late in the season, or in case of an injury, they'll have some experience," he said. "The win was good. We still had some mistakes we need to learn from."

Clemson opened the game as if intent on blowing Furman away in the first quarter.

The Tigers drove 85 yards in 14 plays on their opening possession, capped off by Chad Jasmin's 5-yard touchdown run for the first points of the season.

After forcing a Furman punt on the next possession, Whitehurst unloaded a 72-yard scoring strike to Airese Currie that put the Tigers ahead 14-0 with 2:57 remaining in the opening period.

But after that the Paladins fought Clemson on even terms, actually outscoring the Tigers 17-14 over the final three quarters.

"I'm not going to try to sugarcoat it at all, we came in here to try to win the football game," Lamb said. "We felt like we could and got a good effort in the second half. if we had gotten that same execution in the first half, then there's no telling what would have happened."

Furman 0 7 0 10-17 Clemson 14 14 0 0-28

First Quarter

Clem-Jasmin 5 run (Hunt kick), 5:18.

Clem-Currie 72 pass from Whitehurst (Hunt kick), 2:57.

Second Quarter

Fur-Bratton 20 pass from Moore (Marshall kick), 7:30.

Clem-Howard 17 fumble return (Hunt kick), 4:58.

Clem-Coleman 9 pass from Whitehurst (Hunt kick), 0:41.

Fourth Quarter

Fur-Bratton 3 run (Marshall kick), 12:10.

Fur-FG Marsall 40, 7:50.


                         Fur  Clem
First downs                   14       21
Rushes-yards               48-94   40-124
Passing                       80      301
Comp-Att-Int             10-15-0  23-31-1
Return Yards                  27       23
Punts-Avg.                8-38.1   4-33.8
Fumbles-Lost                 3-1      4-0
Penalties-Yards             4-34   11-111
Time of Possession         29:30    30:30


RUSHING-Furman, Bratton 11-41, Perdue 6-23, Mays 1-15, Moore 13-12, Means
6-8, H.Brigham 7-7, G.Brigham 1-6, Rembert 1-(minus 1), Stone 1-(minus 1), Team
1-(minus 16). Clemson, Coleman 14-50, Jasmin 11-38, Merriweather 5-22, Browning
3-13, Stuckey 2-1, Whitehurst 5-0.

PASSING-Furman, Moore 10-15-0-80. Clemson, Whitehurst 23-31-1-301.

RECEIVING-Furman, Bratton 2-33, Stone 2-7, H.Brigham 2-5, Stepp 1-21, Rust
1-12, G.Brigham 1-6, Rembert 1-(minus 4). Clemson, Youngblood 10-100, Hamilton
5-60, Williamson 2-22, Baham 2-18, Currie 1-72, Elliott 1-10, Kelvin 1-5, Henry

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