By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- It took Clemson’s new spread style offense only 2 plays and 29 seconds to score their first touchdown Saturday against the Troy Trojans. Although many thought that Clemson’s freshman phenom receiver Sammy Watkins would score his first touchdown as a Tiger in Saturday’s game, no one could have predicted that his chance would come on only the second play of the game.
After scoring, Clemson gained possession again almost immediately when Troy’s kickoff returner fumbled the ball and was recovered by Clemson’s Rashard Hall. After the fumble, Clemson went on to cap their 1 minute and 16 second drive off with a Catanzaro field goal from 46 yards out, making it his 3rd longest field goal of his career, and the game 10-0.
The Trojans fought back though completing a 13 play drive for 80 yards that ate up 5:34on the play clock. A 12 yard completion to Peyton for the Trojans capped off an impressive drive that ended in a Troy touchdown making the game 10-6.
After another forced fumble by the Tigers, Catanzaro’s leg was put to the test again, and it seems as if the hard work that he’s put in this offseason has paid off as he made another 46 yard field goal making the score 13-6.
In the first quarter, the Tigers only had to punt the ball twice, scoring on three of their four drives. So far it seems as if Swinney has really focused on the Tiger’s red zone production in the off season, his team has been very sharp so far.
Stephone Anthony is yet another true freshman that has made an impact early for the Tigers as he recorded a sack on Troy’s Corey Robinson for a loss of 8 yards. Although the Tiger’s next drive was an unimpressive one, punter Dawson Zimmerman was able to pin the Trojans to the 1 yard line with a 38 yard punt.
A crucial interception by Boyd in the second quarter that resulted in a 51 yard return by Troy, set up a 21 yard field goal for the Trojans making the score 13-9.
On their next drive the Trojans were quick to score a touchdown with a minute to go in the 2nd quarter taking the lead 16-13 going into halftime.
One of the main problems faced by the Tigers in the first half was not being able to convert a single third down. The Tigers were 0-8 for third down conversions where the Trojans ended the half converting 4 of their 9 third down attempts.
“In the first half I didn’t get in the groove,” Clemson’s quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “I had a lot of nerves going out there but it’s a learning experience.”
The Tigers woes continued into the 3rd quarter, as the Trojans continued to roll, until Boyd was able to connect with tight end Dwayne Allen on the Tiger’s first third down conversion of the game which resulted in a 54 yard run by Allen for a touchdown making the score 20-16.
After the score, a fired up Clemson defense and a lot of crowd noise forced the Trojans to punt the ball.
In the third quarter it became very clear that Tajh Boyd had calmed down and became more comfortable in his role as he completed 11-13 passes. In the Tigers’ scoring drive, Boyd was 9-9 for 70 yards that ended in a 7 yard TD reception by Jaron Brown, making the score 26-16 Tigers.
On their next drive, the Tigers were able to hold the Trojans to a 20 yard field goal, making the score 26-19 in favor of the Tigers. Clemson linebacker Corico Hawkins was injured during the Trojan’s drive however it didn’t look too serious as he was able to walk off the field without help.
Early in the fourth quarter, Tiger fans were able to catch a glimpse of speedster Mike Bellamy and why he is often compared to CJ Spiller as Bellamy rushed 75 yards untouched for a Clemson touchdown.
After taking a 33-19 lead, Troy’s offense began to unravel and quickly. Between incomplete passes and several penalties, the Tigers have continued to control this game in the second half.
A 45 yard field goal made by Catanzaro and a 1 yard TD run by running back sealed the deal for the Tigers as they put 30 points on the board in the 2nd half of play, holding the Trojans to only field goal.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd finished strong versus the Trojans completing 21 of 31 passes for 271 yards and 3 touchdown passes.
The freshmen class also had a big night for the Tigers as they (Watkins, Bellamy, and Bryant) gained 287 of Clemson’s 422 total all purpose yards.
“We played a lot of guys,” Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney said following the game. “I think Brad Scott deserves the game ball tonight though because he recruited Sammy (Watkins), Mike (Bellamy) and Martavis (Bryant). These freshmen are so fast. We want to use them to wear people down and they’re a fun group to watch.”
The Tigers although shaky at first, broke a few records versus the Trojans starting with Sammy Watkins who now holds the record for fastest touchdown scored by a freshman in his career, number of receptions had by a freshman in his first game, and also number of yards for a freshman in first game.
Overall, after a scary first half, ending with the Trojans leading, the Tigers looked solid in the second half, putting 30 points on the board and holding the Trojans to only 3.
“This was a good win for us,” Swinney said. “We accomplished our first goal which was to win our opener, although we had a lot of adversity in the first half, I’m proud of our guys for finishing the game. There was no panic at halftime and we came out strong in the second half. I’m proud of our team and the way we responded after the half. We have to improve as the season goes on but our objective is to win, and I’m looking at this as a good win.”