Defensive front sends message

Oct 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99) celebrates a sack by defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (42) during the second quarter against Boston College at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

With Clemson in front by 18 points in the second quarter, Boston College went on a 13-play, 79-yard drive that took 6:25 off the clock.

It was an impressive drive except for one little thing – they did not score. The Tigers, led by defensive tackle Scott Pagano, stoned the Eagles at the one-yard line on three straight plays. It was a goal line stance that sent not only a message to BC, but to anyone who plays third-ranked Clemson going forward – no team can line up and knock the Tigers’ off the ball.

Boston College, who Clemson beat 56-10 on Friday night, had second-and-goal from the three-yard line when Davon Jones ran straight ahead for two yard to the one-yard line. On third-and-goal from the one, quarterback Patrick Towles tried to sneak the ball into the end zone, but Pagano, along with fellow defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, stoned the 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback for no gain.

On fourth down, BC center Jon Baker was driven back into Towles by Pagano as he was delivering the snap, causing a fumble which Towles recovered for no gain. However, Clemson was called offside and the Eagles got another opportunity.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio went for it, again, on fourth-and-one, but again, Pagano blew the play up and forced Baker to make another bad snap as he pushed the junior right into Towles, who again was stopped for no gain.

“It was just good alignments, good leverage and being ready to play,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.

It was a message. No one is going to move Clemson’s defensive front.

“We are trying not to have any movement at the point of attack whatsoever,” Venables said. “Obviously, they had a couple of bad snaps and they might have had a new center, but they also had a hard time snapping it when Scott Pagano and Dexter Lawrence are lined up over the center.

“Those guys are the heart of your defense, those guys up the middle and the D-Line. For them to make a statement in this game was huge. Again, those kinds of moments, when you look back at your season, are really big moments for you as you try to get better and help your confidence. Kind of having been there and done that is a big turn of events, too.”

BC (3-3, 0-3 ACC) finally did get the ball in the end zone in the third quarter, but it could not run it despite having first-and-goal from the one. On first down, Towles was stopped for no gain, and on second down running back Jon Hillman was stoned for no gain as well. Finally, on third down they went to the air as Towles faked the hand off to Hillman and threw the ball to tight end Bobby Wolford for a one-yard touchdown.

By that time, however, Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) was firmly in control at 35-10 and the Eagles did not come close to scoring again the rest of the night.

A message was sent, no one is going to line up and run the football straight at the Tigers and get away with it.

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