By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After two early scores by the Wofford Terriers, Clemson fans worried that Saturday’s game would start just like it did versus Troy. However, the Tigers were able to score two early touchdowns of their own to keep them in the game early.
A 42 yard bomb to freshman Martavis Bryant and a 74 yard rush for a touchdown by Andre Ellington helped the Tigers early, making the score 14-13 in favor of the Terriers. Although the offense still continued to look basic and not as up tempo as was promised, Clemson has made some strides since their first game of the season, and quarterback Tajh Boyd although frazzled at times looked a little more confident under center vs. the Terriers.
After a good running drive by the Tigers, a missed 43 yard field goal by Catanzaro kept the score at 14-13 and gave the Terriers the ball back. The Terriers after a fake punt that ended in a 28 yard rush, ran for a touchdown making the score 21-13 in favor of the Terriers.
Clemson and Boyd got into a groove on the next drive that ended with a beautiful 38 yard TD catch by freshman phenom Sammy Watkins. After Clemson converted on a 2 point play, the Tigers tied the game up at 21.
At the half, Tajh Boyd was 11-18 for 181 yards. The Tigers also led the Terriers in all purpose yards, with 305 to the Terriers 227. Andre Ellington leads the Tigers in rushing with 8 carries for 108 yards and an average of 13.2 yards per carry.
“Defensively we gave up three big scores in the first half,” Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. “We had a really bad missed tackle that led to the first score, a complete bust for the second one and then the fake punt led to the third one. So defensively we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be in the first half.”
Starting the second half, the Terriers continued to roll over Clemson’s defense with a 61 yard pass from quarterback Mitch Allen to Bersin. The drive ended with a Wofford field goal, making the score 24-21 Terriers.
An impressive drive for the Tigers, with a 14 yard catch by Jaron Brown, a 17 yard gain by Mike Bellamy and a 13 yard quarterback keeper by Tajh Boyd ended with a 5 yard touchdown run by Boyd. Already today, I’ve seen much improvement in Boyd’s ability to run the ball for gain.
Even though Clemson took the lead early in the third quarter, the Tigers defense couldn’t hold the Terriers who finished off an impressive drive with a 38 yard field goal and pulled within 1 point.
The offensive line continues to be a problem for the Tigers versus the Terriers as Boyd was sacked 4 times in three quarters. Either they’re not blocking correctly or Tajh is just taking his time throwing the ball.
After the Terriers pulled within 1, Boyd was sacked the fourth time but was able to come back from the sack and get into a groove, ending the drive with a touchdown pass to Nuk Hopkins, giving the Tigers a 35-27 lead.
Although Clemson’s defense has been looking very putrid versus the Terriers, with starters Rashard Hall and Xavier Brewer out, safety Jonathan Meeks has looked sharp, not allowing Wofford very many yards when they try the reverse.
When Wofford did try to throw the ball long in the beginning of the 4th quarter it was intercepted and returned 43 yards by Kantrell Brown, however the Tigers could not convert on third down and botched up a fake field goal run to keep the score 35-27 Tigers.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd ended the game 18-29 for 261 yards and no turnovers. The Tigers rushed for 215 yards and put 476 all purpose yards on the board by the end of the game.
“For the second week in a row defensively, we didn’t give up a touchdown after halftime so that’s encouraging,” Swinney said. “Offensively we did better on third down, and I thought that Tajh played much better this week. He was very efficient, made good decisions and made good plays with his legs. If we would have protected him a little better he would have done even better. We have to get better but we’re 2-0, and that’s all that matters, we certainly have played better and lost and I’d much rather not play our best game and win. But if we’re going to beat Auburn this week, we’ll have to play better than we have to this point.”