Turnovers, defensive lapses cost Tigers in 31-17 loss to Jackets

by - Senior Writer -

ATLANTA, GA. – Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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has been saying that he was looking for a complete game out his team all season, and Saturday night he got it.

Unfortunately, it was a complete game in the wrong way as the Tigers struggled in all three phases of the game as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets ruined the Tigers’ perfect season with a 31-17 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday night.

The Tigers had a chance to make it a game in the fourth quarter after Rashard HallRashard Hall
Gr. Safety
#31 6-1, 210
St. Augustine, FL

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intercepted Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington and returned it to the Tech nine-yard line. The Tigers trailed 31-17 at the time, and a quick score would have gotten the Tigers back into competition.

But quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
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Hampton, VA

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’s fade pass into the end zone was intercepted by the Jackets at the 10:39 mark of the quarter, and the Jackets went on a 16-play, 58-yard drive that didn’t end until they turned it over on downs with just 1:29 remaining in the game.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said four turnovers and an ability to stop the Jacket offense were too costly.

"We just made too many costly errors tonight,” Swinney said. “We turned it over four times, had costly penalties, and allowed too many big plays. It's not complicated, they out executed us in all phases. We did not quit. I'm proud of their effort. If we scored after Hall's interception, we would have been seven points down with 10 minutes to play. We have no excuses, they just whipped us.”

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who was intercepted twice, agreed that the turnovers made a difference.

"We just made too many costly errors tonight. We turned it over four times, had costly penalties, and allowed too many big plays. It's not complicated, they out executed us in all phases.

"The key to the game was our turnovers,” Boyd said. “We turned the ball over four times. When you do that, it's hard to win games. We have to execute better. You have to give Georgia Tech a lot of credit. They really executed well tonight. We didn't make the big plays and they did."

The Tigers stopped Tech on the game’s opening possession and then drove right down the field, eventually getting a 34-yard field goal from Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
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Greenville, SC

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for a 3-0 lead. However, that was the last bright spot of the half for the Tigers.

The turning point might have been when freshman D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
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Lincoln, AL

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running back took a pass from Boyd out of the backfield on the Tigers’ second possession, but lost the ball before he hit the ground. The officials initially ruled him down, but changed the call after a video review. From there, the Jackets got a fourth-down touchdown run from Orwin Smith and led 7-3.

The Jackets added three more scores to lead 24-3 at the half as the Clemson offense, which had scored 115 points over the previous two games, couldn’t get on track.

In the second half, the Tigers took the opening kickoff and drove down the field and scored when Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-1, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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hauled in a 48-yard pass from Boyd to make it 24-10.

The Jackets answered with another touchdown run just two minutes later to go up 31-10, and Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Fr. Running Back
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Nocatee, FL

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ended another Clemson scoring threat with a fumble in Georgia Tech territory.

The Tigers finally dented the scoreboard again early in the fourth quarter, driving 97 yards down the field in 10 plays. Boyd tried to sneak it over, fumbled in the pile of bodies and right guard Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
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Spartanburg, SC

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fell on it for the first touchdown by a Clemson offensive lineman since 1966, cutting the deficit to 31-17, but the Tigers were unable to get any closer.

Swinney said he had a disappointed group of players.

“That’s a very disappointed locker room. I’m disappointed, at the turnovers in particular,” he said. “And then some of the big plays where we didn’t make a play. But our guys didn’t quit. We get that pick, but then we have a miscommunication and turn it right back over. That’s the difference in the game.

“You’ve got to give Georgia Tech credit, they’re a solid football team. They’re in a battle for their division with Virginia Tech, whoever wins that game. I told our team, get your heads up. This is an 8-1 football team. We’ve gone 12 straight weeks. The open date is coming at a good time. We’ve got a lot of guys that need to get well mentally and physically. It’s been a grind.”

Boyd finished 23-for-40 for 295 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Bellamy led Clemson in rushing with eight carries for 67 yards, and Watkins had 10 catches for 159 yards. He wound up with 290 all-purpose yards, the fifth-highest total in Clemson history.

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson.............  3  0  7  7  - 17       Record: (8-1,5-1)
Georgia Tech........  7 17  7  0  - 31       Record: (7-2,4-2)

Scoring Summary:
1st 08:45 CU - CATANZARO 34 yd field goal, 12-67 4:37, CU 3 - GT 0
    02:59 GT - Smith, O. 1 yd run (Moore, Ju. kick), 6-19 2:58, CU 3 - GT 7
2nd 12:01 GT - Moore, Ju. 23 yd field goal, 8-71 3:15, CU 3 - GT 10
    05:44 GT - Smith, O. 3 yd run (Moore, Ju. kick), 10-80 4:19, CU 3 - GT 17
    00:37 GT - Washington, T. 3 yd run (Moore, Ju. kick), 9-78 3:45, CU 3 - GT 24
3rd 13:34 CU - WATKINS 48 yd pass from BOYD (CATANZARO kick), 4-70 1:19, CU 10 - GT 24
    11:30 GT - Sims, D. 11 yd run (Moore, Ju. kick), 5-77 1:58, CU 10 - GT 31
4th 14:47 CU - B. THOMAS 0 yd fumble recovery (CATANZARO kick), 10-97 3:39, CU 17 - GT 31

                                     CU       GT
FIRST DOWNS...................       18       22
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    24-95   67-383
PASSING YDS (NET).............      304       60
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  41-24-2    9-4-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   65-399   76-443
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      0-0      1-7
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    6-124     3-62
Interception Returns-Yards....     1-26      2-2
Punts (Number-Avg)............   3-38.3   3-44.0
Fumbles-Lost..................      3-2      1-1
Penalties-Yards...............     5-30     4-23
Possession Time...............    21:00    39:00
Third-Down Conversions........  5 of 13  7 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 0   1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-3      5-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      1-1     2-19

RUSHING: Clemson-BELLAMY 8-67; HOWARD 7-22; WATKINS 1-7; BOYD 8-minus 1;
B. THOMAS 0-0. Georgia Tech-Washington, T. 27-176; Sims, D. 15-68; Jones, R.
4-52; Lyons, P. 9-42; Smith, O. 7-37; Peeples, E. 2-16; Hill, S. 1-minus 2; TEAM
2-minus 6.

PASSING: Clemson-BOYD 23-40-2-295; WATKINS 1-1-0-9. Georgia
Tech-Washington, T. 4-9-1-60.

2-26; MEEKS 1-17; HOWARD 1-4. Georgia Tech-Hill, S. 2-47; Melton, T. 2-13.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-HALL 1-26. Georgia Tech-Thomas, J. 2-2.

FUMBLES: Clemson-BOYD 1-0; BELLAMY 1-1; HOWARD 1-1. Georgia
Tech-Washington, T. 1-1.

Stadium: Bobby Dodd Stadium    Attendance: 55646
Kickoff time: 8:12 pm   End of Game: 11:18     Total elapsed time: 3:06
Officials: Referee: Brad Allen; Umpire: Michael Webster; Linesman: Arthur Hardin;
Line judge: Colin Formulak; Back judge: Ron Boyd; Field judge: Kip Johnson;
Side judge: Darrel Harrison; Scorer: Marty Esterman;
Temperature: 50 deg    Wind: NNW@9mph  Weather: Clear and cool

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