Tigers escape Winston-Salem with 12-3 win


by - Correspondent -
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Streeter was 3 for 7 with 72 yards passing in relief
of Dantzler.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - Clemson coach Tommy Bowden wasn't smiling when he hugged defensive back Dextra Polite after Clemson's 12-3 win over Wake Forest in front of 21,105 at Groves Stadium on Saturday.

It's not easy to smile when your high powered offense breaks down and you're forced to push the panic button.
"When you play great defense, it gives you great flexibility on offense and you don't have to be very good," said Bowden, who was dripping sweat when he hugged Polite.

He brought in Brandon Streeter, who wasn't supposed to pay unless it was an emergency. "That decision was easy," said Bowden. "It was emergency for us."

Streeter came in and led Clemson (4-4 overall, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a field goal and a 5-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Polite then put the game away with an interception with 2:41 left. He picked off a pass by Wake's Ben Sankey at the Clemson 49-yard line and returned the ball to the Wake 24. A clip brought the ball back to the Wake 39.

Streeter drove the offense from there for its only touchdown of the game. He snuck in from 1 yard out to give Clemson another touchdown with 1:18 left.

"He told me to be ready if Woody was hurt or he needed me on offense," said Streeter, who broke his collarbone on Oct. 2 against North Carolina. "He said just be ready and keep your head in the game."

Streeter was cleared to play on Thursday and didn't show any effects of having a broken collarbone.

He came in to a standing ovation from several thousand Clemson fans with 9:49 left in the game and Clemson trailing 3-2. On the second play of the drive from Clemson's own 29-yard line, he hit Rod Gardner, who was running a crossing pattern. Gardner took the ball to the Wake 39.

On third down from the 39, he hit Brian Wofford on a screen pass over the middle. Wofford caught the ball on the 41, ran toward the left sideline and took the ball to the Wake 8.

Three plays later Tony Lazzara hit a 29-yard field goal to give Clemson a 5-3 lead with 7:08 left.

"Sometimes just a little change can spark something, and that's what happened," said Bowden.

After Polite's interception, tailback Travis Zachery carried the ball seven straight times for 26 yards before Streeter scored from the 1 to give Clemson a 12-5 lead.

"I knew it would be a tough, hard-fought battle," said Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell, who saw his team fall to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

Bowden didn't figure on his offense struggling the way it did, though.

Woody Dantzler started at quarterback for Clemson and led the Tigers to 216 yards of offense in the first half.

However, Clemson's only points of the half came on a safety. Wake's Jammie Deese snapped the ball over the head of punter Matt Brennie, who was standing at the back of his own end zone with 6:30 left in the second quarter.
Clemson's offense struggled to finish drives. Dantzler was sacked on third down on Clemson's second drive. On Clemson's third drive, Dantzler pulled the ball down and ran on a fourth down play, despite the fact that tight end Pat Cyrgalis was wide open over the middle. Dantzler lost two yards.

Clemson tried a fake field goal at Wake's 4-yard line on its next drive, but Vince Ciurciu, who took a shuttle pass from holder Tucker Hamrick, was stopped for no gain.

On Clemson's next drive, Dantzler tried to scramble on fourth-and-4. He was stopped after gaining one yard.
Bowden didn't put the blame for Clemson's offensive problems on Dantzler. "I don't think it was so much our being stale other than Wake Forest made us execute the offense to precision. And we didn't," said Bowden. "It wasn't so much Woody, but a product of the whole offense not executing."

Still, after three unproductive drives in the second half, Bowden pushed the panic button and brought in Streeter.

"That's a good way for him to start closing out his career," Bowden said.

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