Georgia Tech built a 24-0 second quarter lead on Clemson but still needed a field goal in the final minute to defeat the Tigers 30-27 in the ACC opener for both teams at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta Thursday night. The Yellow Jackets were unstoppable for the first 20 minutes ripping thru the Clemson defense with their triple option attack and with two big special teams plays.
Anthony Allen opened the scoring with an 82 yard run. Then, Clemson attempted to punt the ball out of bounds from a field goal formation, only the ball went to Jerrard Tarrant, ane he went 85 yards for a score to make it 14-0.
Later in the first quarter Tech drove deep into Clemson terretory and set up for an apparent 51 yard field goal. But kicker Scott Blair took the direct snap and hit a wide open Demaryius Thomas with a 34 yard scoring pass. 21-0 Georgia Tech and the Tigers were reeling.
Blair added a 24 yard field goal to put Tech up 24-0 with 10:29 to play in the half. That’s when Clemson finally got its offense in gear. Kyle Parker hit a streaking CJ Spiller in stride down the sideline for a 63 yard touchdown and the Tigers were on the board. Parker would finish trhe night 15-31 for 261 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Kyle Parker audio: (4:03)
The Tigers trailed 24-7 at halftime and major adjustments were made during intermission by defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The Tigers limited the Yellow Jackets to just 48 yards in the third quarter after giving up 246 yards in the first half.
Kevin Steele audio: (2:50)
While the Tiger defense was holding Tech in check, the offense continued to roll scoring 20 unanswered points. Tight end Dwayne Allen caught a nine yard pass from Parker; Jacoby Ford latched on to a 77 yard bomb from Parker; and Richard Jackson blasted field goals of 24 and 53 yards. All of sudden, Clemson led 27-24 and the most unlikelist of victories seemed very possible.
But Tech came right back on their next possession to tie the game with a 34 yard Blair field goal. The game’s most controversial play occurred on Clemson’s next possession. Facing third and eleven from the Tigers 44, Parker hit Ford with a 38 yard pass to the Tech 18. But Tiger guard Thomas Austin was called for holding, and the play was wiped out. Two plays later, the Tigers punted and Tech began it’s winning drive.
The Jackets took over at their own 35 and after a couple of short running plays stung the Tigers with a 39 yard pass from Josh Nesbitt to Demarious Thomas to the Tiger 27. Three running plays moved the ball to the Clemson 18 and from there Blair booted the game winning 36 yard field goal.
Clemson linebacker Brandon Maye says they fought back against a good team and a tough offense to have a chance to win the game.
Brandon Maye audio: (1:52)
Spiller finished the night with 87 yards rushing, 69 yards receiving and 78 yards in kickoff returns. He says he and his teammates never gave up on the idea of pulling out a win.
CJ Spiller audio: (3:07)
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was proud of his team’s comeback, the effort his players exhibited, but he also was dissapointed in his coaching, especially early in the game.
Dabo Swinney audio: (12:36)’
The Tigers are now 1-1. They will play host to Boston College next Saturday.