The Tigers showed a lot of heart Saturday night at Auburn, but lost a tough overtime game to Auburn 27-24.
Clemson started off the scoring early in the game. After winning the coin toss, the Tigers elected to receive the opening kick off. Marcus Gilchrist took the kick at the Clemson ten yard line and returned it 14 yards to the Clemson 24. From there the Tiger’s offense went to work and put together a masterpiece of a drive, capped of by a Kyle Parker to Jamie Harper touchdown pass of eight yards.
That opening drive included 12 plays for 76 yards and ticked six minutes and one second off the first quarter clock. Chandler Cantanzaro topped off the drive with an extra point to give Clemson the 7-0 lead early in the game.
The Clemson defense then did it’s job on the first offensive possession of the night for the War Eagle, forcing them to go three and out and punt it back to the Tiger offense. Nothing was doing for the Tigers on that drive though, and they punted it right back to the War Eagle.
The two teams then exchanged punts once more before the end of the first quarter. After the quarter was over, Clemson led 7-0 thanks to over 100 yards of offensive production, split almost evenly between the run and the pass, 57 and 60. The defense had also held Auburn to just eight total yards, all of which were rushing.
Two plays into the second quarter the Tigers faced fourth down and one to go, and a decision. Deciding to go for it at the Auburn 33 yard line, the Tigers went to Jamie Harper to the right side for no gain, turning the ball over to Auburn on downs.
Once again though, the Tiger’s defense held strong and forced a three and out for Auburn, and Shoemaker again punted it to Marcus Gilchrist, who took received the punt at the Clemson 17 yard line and returned it just six yards to the 23 yard line.
Going to work for the second time in the quarter, Parker and the Clemson offense put together its second longest drive of the game thus far, going 53 yards in eleven plays and capping it off with a Catanzaro field goal of 42 yards to give Clemson the 10-0 lead. The drive lasted 4:44 seconds.
After a 70 yard kickoff by Spencer Benton, Auburn worked 35 yards out of seven plays but was once again forced to punt by the stingy Clemson defense. Shoemaker punted the ball into the endzone, giving the Tigers the ball at the 20 yard line.
The Tigers took the ball at the 20 yard line with just over five minutes left in the half but were unable to gain more than 28 yards, and again punted it to Auburn. The punt by Dawson Zimmerman went 52 yards and into the end zone for an Auburn touchback.
On their fourth play of the drive, a second and eight on their own 32, quarterback Cameron Newton went deep to the right side looking for Cody Burns, but Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel was there for a terrific catch and interception.
On the next drive following the interception, the Clemson offense again found some rhythm, this time driving 61 yards on just five plays and in just 40 seconds. The drive was capped off by a 24 yard pass to the front corner of the end zone to Jamie Harper. Harper laid out beautifully for the catch, and after review it was ruled a touchdown. Cantanzaro added the extra point, and the Tigers seemed to be well in control at that point, leading the 15th ranked War Eagle 17-0.
However, after Benton’s kickoff was returned 24 yards by Washington to the Auburn 30 yard line, the War Eagle offense put together a six play 53 yard drive before kicking a 35 yard field goal. That field goal would ensure that Auburn didn’t go into halftime with no points, but also seemed to turn the momentum well into their favor heading into the second half.
In the third quarter, after the two teams had traded punts, Auburn took their second possession of the half and drove it 61 yards in six plays on a drive that lasted just under three minutes, and was capped off by a 12 yard touchdown run by O. McCalebb. After the score, Auburn trailed now by only seven points, 17-10.
It was at that very minute when you could feel the momentum completely shift. If the field goal at the end of the first half was what started the mo-shift, then that touchdown was what shifted whatever was left on the Tigers sideline all over to the Auburn sideline.
If things didn’t seem to be going bad enough for the Tigers at that point, on their very next possession, quarterback Kyle Parker was injured when he scrambled on third down after a fumbled snap. That play resulted in a fourth down and the Tigers were forced to punt the ball away to the much hotter Auburn offense.
After the punt the Auburn offense took over at their own 28 yard line. Just under three minutes later they had gone 72 yards on eight plays for the touchdown, a pass from Newton to Darvin Adams of eight yards. After the extra point, the game was all of a sudden all knotted up at 17 apiece, and if there was any doubt before, there was absolutely none now, the momentum was 100% behind the home team War Eagle.
After taking the all on the 20 yard line after a touchback, the Tiger’s offense again seemed to have lost what they had in the first half, and again were forced to punt the ball after gaining just 23 yards over five plays. Two plays and 83 yards later, Auburn was in the end zone again, and this touchdown put them up for the first time all night, 24-17.
On the ensuing kickoff, Gilchrist took the return back 21 yards to the Clemson 23 yard line, and from there the Tigers finally went to work on a solid drive. A pass interference call in the next play moved the ball to the Clemson 38 yard line and Jamie Harper rushed twice in a row, gaining six yards per, and moved the ball to the 50 yard line just as the third quarter came to an end.
To start the fourth quarter Andre Ellington picked up where Harper left off and busted a 21 yard run down to the Auburn 29 yard line. Five plays later the Andre Ellington punched it into the end zone for the Tigers and tying things all up at 24 to 24.
Neither team was able to move the ball much after that touchdown, neither team gained more than fifty yards afterwards, as a matter of fact. Regulation ended with the two teams still all tied up at 24 points apiece.
Heading into overtime the Tigers won the coin toss, and as is par for the course they elected to go on defense first. The Tigers defense did it’s job, holding Auburn to three points.
Back on offense, it looked as though the Tigers would easily score a touchdown, especially after picking up a first down at the 13 yard line. However, after three plays got them to just the six yard line, it was an obvious choice to kick the field goal. On to kick came Cantanzaro, and he nailed the first one.
As it turns out though, there was a flag thrown on the play. With the assumption that it would be an offsides on the defense, most were shocked to hear the call. Illegal snap. The call of illegal snap forced the Tigers into another kick, this time 5 yards deeper. This kick was wide left though, and that ended the ball game, a heart breaker for Tiger players, coaches and fans.