Clemson won a tougher than expected game against North Texas Saturday afternoon at Death Valley in the season opener for both teams. The 35-10 final score doesn’t indicate the fight in the Mean Green which came in as 23 point underdogs.
Clemson relied on is superior speed on offense to reel off three quick touchdowns that made the difference in the game. The Tigers first four scores, as they built a 28-7 lead, required a total of 10 plays.
Andre Ellington broke free for a 60 yard touchdown run on the second play of the game for a 7-0 Clemson lead. Kyle Parker opened another drive with a 70 yard scoring strike to Brandon Clear. Parker later hit Jamie Harper with an 8 yard touchdown pass to cap a three play drive. And then Ellington ran in from 14 yards out to complete a quick 4 play possesion.
Because of the quick strike nature of the defense, and because North Texas has a very good running back in Lance Dunbar, the Clemson defense spent a good part of the afternoon on the field. Dunbar finished with 116 yards as the Mean Green got off 83 snaps on a sun splashed day in the Valley. But outside of a 13 yard scoring pass from Nathan Dune to Darius Carey late in the first half, the Tiger defense kept North Texas out of the end zone.
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker had a slow start missing on his first four passing attempts. He finished 9 of 17 for 170 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Ellington and Harper became the first pair of Clemson running backs to rush for 100 yards in a game since James Davis and CJ Spiller did so against Maryland in 2007. Ellington finished with 122 yards on 12 carries and Harper had 102 yards on 9 carries. The pair combined to score 3 touchdowns.
Also worth noting for the Tigers was the performance by punter Dawson Zimmerman who averaged 51.3 yards per punt on the afternoon. And Marcus Gilchrist, who is taking over the return duties from CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford, also impressed with 99 yards in returns.
Clemson finished with 423 yards to 462 for the Mean Green. North Texas ran 83 plays to Clemson’s 46 and converted 11 of 22 third down opportunities. North Texas had the ball for 41:52.
The Tigers are back at home next Saturday against Presbyterian College. Kickoff is set for 3:30. It will be available thru ESPN3.