Tigers Open With 24-18 Victory Over No. 19 Florida State


by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Just when the Clemson defense seemed shaken, and just when the special teams seemed anything but special, each unit came up big when they were needed most.

The Tigers rolled out to a 24-3 halftime lead, then withstood a Florida State flurry late in the game to escape Death Valley with a 24-18 win over the 19th-ranked Seminoles. The win was Clemson's third straight over FSU (0-1), and fourth in the last five years.

The game was played before a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium.

"Florida State's a good team. I don't want to take anything away from them," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said. "I was hoping they would quit. But knowing my father and his track record I knew they wouldn't. A lot of credit goes to them for not giving up."

In getting the win, Cullen Harper became the first Clemson quarterback ever to beat a ranked team in his first career start. But it wasn't easy.

Florida State took advantage of a pair of special teams breakdowns to climb back in the game in the second half. The first, a snap over the head of punter Jimmy Maners, turned into a safety when Maners scooped up the ball and ran out of the back of the end zone.

That made it 24-5. And after the kickoff following the safety, the Seminoles struck again. Antone Smith's 49-yard run to the Clemson one set up his scoring run on the next play. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Tiger lead was cut to 24-11.

The Clemson offense, which would gain just 82 total yards in the second half, went backwards on the next possession and left Maners punting out of his end zone. His kick was returned by Preston Parker to the Clemson 32.

The Seminoles didn't take long to capitalize on the field position, quickly moving further into Tiger territory and capping off the short drive with a 15-yard scoring pass from Drew Weatherford to Richard Goodman early in the final period.

That made it a safety and two touchdowns within a span of 5:51, and pulled the Seminoles within 24-18.

"We kind of self-destructed," Bowden would say later.

But while the offense could never get it going again, the defense took over for the rest of the game - with some help from Maners.

The Clemson punter pinned FSU inside its five yard line on the next possession, which was a hole the Seminoles couldn't escape. On the final two possessions the Tigers' defensive line harassed Weatherford incessantly, never allowing the junior to get his team into serious scoring position.

Meanwhile, Harper wasn't spectacular in his debut as Clemson's starter. But he was solid.

The redshirt junior completed 14-of-24 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn't intercepted and was only sacked twice.

"I'm sure there was a lot of anxiety on his part," Bowden said of Harper. "I thought he did a really good job. Sure, there's some polishing up to do by him...but he did well. I look for him to get a lot better."

Harper's two touchdown passes came on an 11-yard pass to freshman tight end Brian Linthicum and a 41-yarder to Aaron Kelly.

The Tigers' other score came on a beautiful 29-yard run by James Davis. Davis finished with 102 yards on 18 carries.

Clemson's final points came on Mark Buchholz's 31-yard field goal.

Clemson's defense dominated Florida State of the half, holding the Seminoles without a first down on their final nine possessions before the break.

Florida State gained just 62 yards in the first half, 22 of which came on its first play from scrimmage. After that, Clemson's defensive front simply suffocated the Seminoles every attempt at piecing together a drive.

Even after FSU blocked a Jimmy Maners punt and recovered at the Clemson 20-yard line, the Seminoles could do nothing with the Tigers' D. Florida State gained just two yards in three plays, and had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Gary Cismesia.

The game opened under the shadow of a pair bomb threats on campus, both of which were emailed to the university police department.

One targeted Sirrine Hall. The other target wasn't known. They were the second and third bomb threats emailed to the CUPD since Aug. 27.

A search of Sirrine Hall by a bomb squad from the Anderson Co. Sheriff's Dept. turned up no threats, and as a precaution security was heightened around Death Valley. Fans were more thoroughly searched than usual upon entering the stadium, and a command post was set up at Littlejohn Coliseum to monitor the situation.

Clemson returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday, hosting Louisiana-Monroe.


Attendance: 83000

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score

----------------- -- -- -- -- -----

Florida State....... 0 3 8 7 - 18

Clemson............. 14 10 0 0 - 24

Scoring Summary:

1st 06:07 CU - Linthicum, B 11 yd pass from Harper, C

(Buchholz, M kick)

4 plays, 57 yards, TOP 1:13, FS 0 - CU 7

04:53 CU - Davis, J 29 yd run (Buchholz, M kick)

1 play, 24 yards, TOP 0:13, FS 0 - CU 14

2nd 13:25 CU - Kelly, A 41 yd pass from Harper, C

(Buchholz, M kick)

4 plays, 60 yards, TOP 1:53, FS 0 - CU 21

04:12 FS - Cismesia, G 36 yd field goal

4 plays, 2 yards, TOP 1:35, FS 3 - CU 21

01:09 CU - Buchholz, M 31 yd field goal

6 plays, 14 yards, TOP 2:50, FS 3 - CU 24

3rd 02:11 FS - Team safety

FS 5 - CU 24

00:46 FS - Smith, A 1 yd run (Weatherford, D rush failed)

4 plays, 59 yards, TOP 1:19, FS 11 - CU 24

4th 11:40 FS - Goodman, R 15 yd pass from Weatherford, D

(Cismesia, G kick)

7 plays, 32 yards, TOP 2:27, FS 18 - CU 24

Kickoff time: 8:09 PM End of Game: 11:46 PM

Total elapsed time: 3:37

Officials: Referee: Ron Cherry; Umpire: Tom Laverty;

Linesman: Mike Samples;

Line judge: Rick Page; Back judge: Pat Ryan;

Field judge: Jim Coman;

Side judge: Mike Safrit; Scorer: Tim Bourret;

Temperature: 86 Wind: W2 mph

Weather: 45% humidity; cloudy

FS CU

FIRST DOWNS................... 8 16

Rushing..................... 4 10

Passing..................... 4 5

Penalty..................... 0 1

NET YARDS RUSHING............. 114 132

Rushing Attempts............ 28 42

Average Per Rush............ 4.1 3.1

Rushing Touchdowns.......... 1 1

Yards Gained Rushing........ 144 210

Yards Lost Rushing.......... 30 78

NET YARDS PASSING............. 142 160

Completions-Attempts-Int.... 17-35-0 14-24-0

Average Per Attempt......... 4.1 6.7

Average Per Completion...... 8.4 11.4

Passing Touchdowns.......... 1 2

TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 256 292

Total offense plays......... 63 66

Average Gain Per Play....... 4.1 4.4

Fumbles: Number-Lost.......... 2-1 2-1

Penalties: Number-Yards....... 8-45 6-46

PUNTS-YARDS................... 9-334 9-291

Average Yards Per Punt...... 37.1 32.3

Net Yards Per Punt.......... 31.8 18.2

Inside 20................... 0 2

50+ Yards................... 0 1

Touchbacks.................. 0 3

Fair catch.................. 1 0

KICKOFFS-YARDS................ 4-243 6-381

Average Yards Per Kickoff... 60.8 63.5

Net Yards Per Kickoff....... 32.5 43.7

Touchbacks.................. 0 1

Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD. 3-67-0 5-48-0

Average Per Return.......... 22.3 9.6

Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 5-99-0 4-113-0

Average Per Return.......... 19.8 28.2

Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD.. 0-0-0 0-0-0

Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD. 0-0-0 0-0-0

Miscellaneous Yards........... 0 0

Possession Time............... 27:14 32:46

1st Quarter................. 9:43 5:17

2nd Quarter................. 6:14 8:46

3rd Quarter................. 5:53 9:07

4th Quarter................. 5:24 9:36

Third-Down Conversions........ 3 of 17 4 of 15

Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 3 0 of 1

Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 3-3 2-2

Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-10 5-15

PAT Kicks..................... 1-1 3-3

Field Goals................... 1-1 1-1

Individual Statistics

Florida State

Rushing No Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg

--------------------------------------------

Smith, A 14 103 13 90 1 49 6.4

Weatherford, D 10 30 15 15 0 22 1.5

Parker, P 3 11 2 9 0 7 3.0

Sims, M 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.0

Totals... 28 144 30 114 1 49 4.1

Passing Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack

--------------------------------------------

Weatherford, D 34-17-0 142 1 28 5

Team 1-0-0 0 0 0 0

Totals... 35-17-0 142 1 28 5

Receiving No. Yds TD Long

-----------------------------------

Smith, A 5 57 0 28

Parker, P 4 28 0 13

Fagg, D 2 11 0 8

Graham, C 2 11 0 9

Sims, M 2 10 0 10

Goodman, R 1 15 1 15

Carr, G 1 10 0 10

Totals... 17 142 1 28

Punting No. Yds Avg Long In20 TB

----------------------------------------------

Gano, G 9 334 37.1 48 0 0

Totals... 9 334 37.1 48 0 0

Punts Kickoffs Intercept

All Returns No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg

---------------------------------------------

Parker, P 2 36 20 0 0 0 0 0 0

Lawson, R 1 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Garvin, M 0 0 0 5 99 24 0 0 0

Totals... 3 67 20 5 99 24 0 0 0

Field goal attempts

----------------------------------------

Cismesia, G 2nd 04:12 36 yds - Good

Kickoffs No. Yds TB OB Avg

---------------------------------------

Gano, G 4 243 0 0 60.8

Clemson

Rushing No Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg

--------------------------------------------

Davis, J 18 102 0 102 1 29 5.7

Spiller, C 11 53 5 48 0 15 4.4

Ford, J 3 36 4 32 0 34 10.7

Harper, C 6 19 13 6 0 18 1.0

Taylor, R 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.0

TEAM 3 0 56 -56 0 0 -18.7

Totals... 42 210 78 132 1 34 3.1

Passing Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack

--------------------------------------------

Harper, C 24-14-0 160 2 41 2

Totals... 24-14-0 160 2 41 2

Receiving No. Yds TD Long

-----------------------------------

Kelly, A 5 98 1 41

Grisham, T 3 26 0 10

Spiller, C 2 3 0 4

Barry, D 1 12 0 12

Linthicum, B 1 11 1 11

Chambers, S 1 7 0 7

Davis, J 1 3 0 3

Totals... 14 160 2 41

Punting No. Yds Avg Long In20 TB

----------------------------------------------

Maners, J 8 291 36.4 52 2 3

TEAM 1 0 0.0 0 0 0

Totals... 9 291 32.3 52 2 3

Punts Kickoffs Intercept

All Returns No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg

---------------------------------------------

Kelly, A 0 0 0 1 21 21 0 0 0

Spiller, C 2 25 18 2 78 52 0 0 0

Ford, J 3 23 13 1 14 14 0 0 0

Totals... 5 48 18 4 113 52 0 0 0

Field goal attempts

----------------------------------------

Buchholz, M 2nd 01:09 31 yds - Good

Kickoffs No. Yds TB OB Avg

---------------------------------------

Buchholz, M 6 381 1 0 63.5

FUMBLES: Florida State-Parker, P 1-1; Weatherford, D 1-0.

Clemson-Spiller, C 1-1; Ford, J

1-0.

Comment on this story
Print   
Send Feedback to Dan Scott: Email | Comment
Tigers edged by UNCG to stop streak
Tigers edged by UNCG to stop streak
Sammy Watkins honored with 'Sammy Watkins Day' in Lee County
Sammy Watkins honored with 'Sammy Watkins Day' in Lee County
Two Tigers listed in Mel Kiper's 2020 NFL Mock Draft
Two Tigers listed in Mel Kiper's 2020 NFL Mock Draft
Post your comments!
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest