By Keith McGonigle.
Every year it seems that Boston College gives Clemson fits. Going into this game Clemson fans had to think that this year would be a different story. The Eagles are in a rebuilding year with much of their team being freshman including a true freshman at quarterback. Add the fact that Boston College has had some key injuries on defense and you would think that Clemson fans would have had a chance to see Tajh Boyd and the backups by the 4th quarter.
Before the game, the one thing that really stood out was how well Clemson traveled. There were two packed sections decked out in orange. The players on both teams had to have noticed it.
After a quick three and out for the Tigers offense to start the game, the Eagles took over at their own 43. On Eagles QB Chase Rettig’s first attempt, S Rashard Hall jumped a quick out route, intercepting the pass and taking it 52 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately that would be the last big highlight of the game for the Tigers.
On the Eagles second drive they took the ball down the Field behind RB Montel Harris. The Tigers found out early that Harris was going to be a tough back to bring down. He is a smaller back, but he ran really hard all day, the Tigers had trouble tackling him with just one guy.
A great 40 yard catch set the Eagles up with a first and goal from the 2. The Tigers were able to make three huge goal line stands holding the Eagles to only a field goal, and making it 7-3.
Kyle Parker came out passing on the Tigers next drive. He went 5/6 and passed for 54 yards and drove the Tigers down the field. They ended up being short of a first down on a 3rd and 6 pass and had to settle for a field goal making it 10-3.
The Eagles ensuing drive featured a lot of Montel Harris. Harris carried the ball 11 times running it right at the middle of the Tigers defense. The drive only resulted in a field goal, but may have been their best drive of the game. They kept the defense on the field for 9 minutes and 32 seconds and showed that they could run against Clemson talented defense.
Unfortunately the defense would not get a much needed break. Boston College squib kicked the ball up the middle, and Jamie Harper fielded it out a bounce around the 25 yard line. Instead of falling on the ball, Harper tried to pick it up and run with it. This proved costly as the ball bounced off of Harper and was eventually recovered by the Eagles. The very next play was a 36 yard pass to Montel Harris on a wheel route (think CJ Spiller) for a touchdown making it 13-10.
Clemson went on the offensive on their next drive taking the ball 45 yards on 10 plays. After a dropped pass by DeAndre Hopkins on third down, Chandler Catanzaro missed a 44 yard game tying field goal attempt.
With 3:43 left in the second half, Boston College drove down the field with 8 straight runs. Instead of attempting a play into the end zone with time running out, the Eagles decided to run out the clock and kick a field goal. It turned out to be the right call as the Eagles nailed a 36 yard field goal making it 16-10 going into half time.
The second half was not pretty for the Tigers. The teams swapped punts back and forth on the first 3 possessions of the second half. On the Tigers second chance of the half, the Tigers started going back to their bread and butter, running the ball with Andre Ellington. Ellington ran for 28 yards on three carries and put the Tigers in field goal range. After two incomplete passes, the Tigers attempted a 36 yard field goal but pushed the kick right and missed the try.
As the clock continued to tick down you could start to see the urgency in the Tigers play. The Clemson defense stepped up again forcing a three and out and giving the Tigers the ball near midfield. After a 15 yard pass to Dwayne Allen and 15 yard roughing the passer penalty the Tigers were once again in the Red Zone. After a 6 yard loss on a run by Ellington Clemson faced a 3 and 16. Parker rolled out on the play and ended up throwing across his body. The ball was batted around and eventually ended up in the hands of an Eagle defender.
The Tigers defense continued to step it up in the 4th quarter, forcing 3 more punts and holding the Eagles offense to just 2 first downs. On the Tigers next chance on offense they turned the ball over on downs coming up just short of the first down on a completion to Dwayne Allen.
The Tigers got the ball back with 3:38 for their last real chance at the win. Parker found Allen (who had a great game bringing in 7 receptions for 57 yards) on three consecutive plays and it looked liked Clemson was finding something in the passing game. But Parker, once again rolling right, forced a ball on the sidelines and ended up throwing an interception, a play that would pretty much seal the game.
The second half of the game was extremely hard to watch as a Clemson fan. Considering the field position Clemson had the whole game and the fact that Clemson could not overcome a 6 point deficit in one half was really tough to swallow. You cannot be angry with the way the defense played. They made some great adjustments at half time and really kept the Eagles offense in check in the second half. They let up only 74 total yards and forced a punt on every possession.
Just another tough and disappointing loss for a very talented Clemson team, this one will hurt for a long time.