After a pair of wins that practically were sealed by the end of the first quarter, Clemson had to play all four quarters in this one against 24 point underdog Boston College. While the offense struggled most of the day, the Tiger defense gets a gold star for keeping the Eagles’ offense in check most of the day in a hard fought 24-14 victory before 77,500 fans at Death Valley.
The victory moves the fourth ranked Tigers to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC and sets up the titanic clash with sixth ranked Florida State next Saturday night at Clemson. The Seminoles had a bye this weekend.
Though Clemson’s offensive numbers look good, 496 total yards including 334 passing from Tajh Boyd, the Tigers were not able to overwhelm the BC defense with their fast paced attack as they did Wake Forest and Syracuse the last two weeks.
Part of the Tigers’ problem was the Tigers themselves.
They fumbled five times losing two. There were drops and a penalty that negated a 48 yard scoring pass. And not only did Chandler Cantanzaro miss a field goal for the first time this season, the Tigers botched another attempt when holder Corbin Jenkins dropped the snap. It was that kind of day for Chad Morris’ group.
Thus it was a day when Dabo Swinney needed a great defensive effort, and he got that. The defense did give up a pair of big scoring plays, a 38 yard run and a 69 yard pass, but outside of that the Tigers harassed BC quarterback Chase Rettig all afternoon (13-21, 192 yards) and limited the effectiveness of running back Andre Williams who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher.
The Eagles managed only 286 total yards, or 179 yards on the 58 other plays they ran besides their two scoring plays. That’s an average of 3 yards per snap. Williams, who came in averaging 153 yards per game, was held to 70 yards on 24 carries, an average of 2.9 per attempt.
It’s the fifth game in a row Brent Venables bunch held an opponent to 14 points or less, the first time Clemson has done that in 24 years.
And the defense even added a much needed insurance score in the fourth quarter. Tony Steward sacked Rettig and forced a fumble that Vic Beasley snatched up and returned 13 yards for a 24-14 lead.
Beasley was named the player of the game after finishing with 5 total tackles, his ninth sack of the season, two tackles for loss and the fumble recovery.
The only notable injury suffered by Clemson was defensive end Shaq Lawson who had his shoulder pop out of place. The trainers popped it back in and Swinney said Lawson was feeling fine after the game.