Clemson and Maryland waged some memorable battles over their 50 plus years together in the ACC. Their final league meeting on Homecoming in College Park was anything but memorable but it will go down as a win for Clemson 40-27. Don’t let the final score fool you. The game was kind of a snoozer until the teams went on a scoring orgy in the fourth quarter combining for five touchdowns.
Maryland, of course, is moving to the Big Ten next season so today’s game at Byrd Stadium was the last regularly scheduled meeting between the programs who played their first ACC game against each other in 1953. I’m not sure that game, a 20-0 Maryland victory at Clemson, was any prettier than this one.
Clemson had some gaudy offensive numbers but inefficiency in the red zone and three turnovers marred their day. The Tigers used up 52 snaps over four drives that resulted in field goals by Chandler Cantanzaro. Time and again in the red zone the Tigers failed to convert a crucial third down that would have kept drives going.
And on consecutive plays in the third quarter Clemson lost fumbles deep in their side of the field. Fortunately, the Clemson defense rose to the challenge and forced the Terps to settle for field goals both times.
The Tiger defense had a very good day with the exception of a 71 yard scoring pass by Greer native Caleb Rowe in the first quarter. Rowe, subbing for the injured CJ Brown, struggled most of the day. He went thru a stretch where he was 4-21 passing with 2 interceptions.
And it was a defensive play that really turned the game Clemson’s way. The Tigers led only 19-13 in the early moments of the fourth quarter when Bashaud Breeland, who sat out the first half for a suspension from last week’s targeting penalty, hit Albert Reid and forced a fumble at the Maryland 31 that was picked up and returned 9 yards by Spencer Shuey. Four plays later Boyd ran in for a 5 yard touchdown and the Tigers finally had some breathing room.
Boyd, who suffered a slight knee injury in the first half while also playing on a sore foot from last week, hit a pair of career milestones. He passed the 10,000 yard passing mark and moved to second all time in the ACC. And he pushed his career touchdown responsibility total to 112 tying him with Phillip Rivers for that ACC mark.
Sammy Watkins also had a career day with a Clemson record 14 catches for 163 yards. And Rod McDowell also had the best day of his career with a career high 30 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, his first touchdowns of the season.
The Tigers finished with 552 total yards on 97 plays averaging 5.7 yards per play.
Clemson closes out the series with Maryland with a 34-26-2 record including 16-13-2 in College Park.