By Ashley Denny.
COLLEGE PARK, MD- Two years ago, when the eventual Atlantic Division Champions traveled to College Park, MD to take on the Maryland Terrapins they, along with the rest of Tiger Nation, were shocked when the Tigers came away with a lose.
“I could not be more proud of this football team. We were 18 points down, but there was no panic on the sidelines. It was the second greatest comeback in Clemson history. The entire team stayed together as did the players. The staff did not panic,” said Swinney.
From the start, the Tigers ran the ball almost exclusively, knowing that the Terrapins were missing their three starting linebackers. Andre finished the game with 24 carries for 213 yards and two touchdowns including on a 55 yarder and a 44 yarder to put the game away in the final minutes.
A false start penalty didn’t hold Tajh Boyd and his offense down though with Boyd running for 13 on the next play. A 34 yard gain by Watkins put the Tigers into Maryland territory very early. Although the Tigers were stopped on 3rd and goal by the Terrapins, Mister Dependability, Chandler Catanzaro came in and nailed a 19 yard field goal to put the Tigers on the board early 3-0.
The Terrapins came out throwing in their first drive, showing that they trust CJ Brown who is making his first career start at quarterback. Although the Tigers were able to keep the Terrapins from converting on third down on their first drive, a mistake by Watkins on a punt return ended in a fumble with the Terrapins recovering and eventually scoring a touchdown to make the game 7-3 Maryland.
On their second drive, a 22 yard run by Andre Ellington started it off, however Boyd showed that he was a little frazzled nearly throwing two picks on one drive. The Tigers ended up having to punt on this drive as Boyd continued to look frazzled.
Although the Tigers held the Terrapins to only a few yards on their first drive forcing them to punt, Boyd gave the ball right back to Maryland for a pick 6 making the score 14-3.
A 70 yard kickoff return by Watkins puts the Tigers back into the game quickly, and although Boyd still doesn’t look to be comfortable out there, the Tigers drive ends in a touchdown making the score 14-10.
On their next drive the Terrapins made the score 21-10 to start off the second quarter, making the crowd at Byrd Stadium erupt. After the first quarter of the game, Clemson’s Ellington has 12 carries for 82 yards and the Tigers as a whole have 160 yards to the Terrapins 106.
The Terrapins wasted no time in the second quarter to score again on a 21 yard run by CJ Brown making the score 28-10.
The next drive for the Tigers was one of their best so far with Boyd starting to get his act together. A beautiful 18 yard catch by third string tight end Sam Cooper led to a touchdown pass from Boyd to Nuk Hopkins to pull the Tigers closer at 28-17. Boyd on that drive was 5-6 for 47 yards, plus 3 carries for 17 yards.
The Tigers forced the Terrapins to punt on their next drive, and right away Clemson’s offense gets back into a groove with a 14 yard run by Ellington and a 19 yard completion from Boyd to Nuk Hopkins. However a sack on Tajh Boyd stalled their drive forcing the Tigers to punt the ball.
Going into halftime, the Terrapins lead the Tigers 28-17 however the Tigers offense started to get a momentum going with Boyd ending the half 12-19.
At the start of the second half, CJ Brown and the Terps started rolling again getting into Clemson territory easily and scoring yet again. The score is now 35-17 in favor of the Terrapins; the Tigers are going to have to rely on more than just their running game to get out of this hole.
An interception by Bashaad Breeland on the next drive for the Terrapins put the Tigers back into scoring position, in what hopefully will be a momentum change. For once, the Tigers were able to come away with points off of a turnover, as Boyd connected with Sammy Watkins on a 3rd and 8 making the score 35-24.
“The biggest play of the night might have been Bashaud Breeland’s interception. We were donw 18 points and they had the ball. One more score and it would have been difficult. That play turned the momentum,” said Swinney,
After a block in the back call against Maryland, the Tigers defense continues to look sluggish, looking taken off guard each and every play. The commentators actually compared Maryland’s offense to Clemson’s and couldn’t believe that Clemson’s defense was having so much trouble against a offense that they go up against every day in practice. Although the Terrapins were rolling, the Tigers miraculously were able to hold them to a field goal making the score 38-24.
A 54 yard run by Andre Ellington gives the Tigers some momentum going forward however Maryland was able to stall the Tigers’ drive and hold them to only a field goal, making the score 38-27.
The Tigers were able to force the Terrapins to go 3 and out, quickly getting the Clemson offense back on the field. First play out of the gate, Boyd launches the ball to Sammy Watkins for a gain of 51. And soon after that spectacular catch, Boyd threw a ball to Watkins again in the corner of the end zone which was caught again to make the score 38-35 after the Tigers were successful on a two point conversion.
On Maryland’s next drive, Clemson’s defense started to come alive, forcing the Terrapins to punt for the 5th time tonight. Heading into the 4th quarter, the freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has 246 all purpose yards which is a record for Clemson freshmen.
On Clemson’s next drive, Boyd ran for a first down and completed several nice passes to Dwayne Allen, Adam Humphries, and Humphries again and Clemson finally gets the lead back on a 12 yard touchdown pass from Boyd to Jaron Brown to make the score 42-38 Clemson.
On Maryland’s next drive, CJ Brown got into trouble early but got himself out on a first down pass. It’s clear to see that the Clemson defense has put it into another gear however Maryland’s offense continued to roll and was able to score another touchdown to retake the lead 45-42.
On the kickoff return however, Sammy Watkins makes another career first, a kickoff return for a touchdown to make the score 49-45 in favor of the Tigers, sending Clemson’s abysmal defense back on the field.
Maryland was able to get into Clemson territory on their next drive; however they were unable to come away with any points giving the Tigers offense the ball back. The offense smartly moving the ball slowly trying to take time off of the clock, however as soon as he saw the hole, Andre Ellington was off to the races and ran the ball 44 yards for the touchdown making the score 56 to 45.
Maryland’s offense however is not done yet, quarterback CJ Brown gave it his all and didn’t look like a first year starter. Maryland couldn’t do anything to stop Clemson’s player of the game, Sammy Watkins though.
Clemson ended the game with 576 yards of total offense, 346 yards coming from freshman Sammy Watkins. Boyd was 26-38 for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns, even though he was not accurate during the first half. In the second half however, Boyd was 14-18 for 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.
“I am glad to be 7-0. Next week we have North Carolina coming to town and we will honor our National Championship team of 1981. It will be a great week at Clemson,” said Swinney.