By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
CLEMSON, SC – In a game that saw the No. 12 Clemson Tigers score 45 points in the first half, and defeat Ball State 52-27, the most exciting play of the day may have came from a kicker. Redshirt senior Spencer Benton brought the Clemson crowd to a roar when he connected on a 61-yard field goal as the first half expired.
The field goal gave the Tigers 45 points for the half, the most a Clemson team had scored in a half since the 1981 season versus Wake Forest. The 1981 Tigers scored 49 points en route to an 82-24 victory.
Individually, Benton was inked in both the Clemson and the ACC record books. The 61-yard field goal was four yards longer than the previous Clemson record of 57 yards held by Obed Ariri and Chris Gardocki. The field goal was also the longest in ACC history, breaking the previous record of 60 yards from Gary Cismesia of FSU in 2007.
Benton was just happy to get a second chance at kicking a long field goal for the Tigers.
“Last week we had an opportunity against Auburn and went out there in my first attempt at a long field goal, and I hooked it left. I thought if I had another shot at it, I could make it,” he said.
Benton serves as the Tigers starting punter and kickoff specialist, but is only used in long distance situations at place kicker, stepping in for starter Chandler Catanzaro, who has currently made 12 straight field goals.
As the normal holder on placekicks, Benton was very complimentary of his teammates efforts in helping him set the record.
“We had great up front blocking, Michael Sobeski had a flawless snap, and Chandler Catanzaro with the hold. Everything clicked, it was awesome,” he said.
The kick was not only an in-game record for Benton, but also a personal one.
“That is my longest kick I have ever made in a snap and hold situation. Coach (Dabo) Swinney put us in some good situations in practice this week. We hit some sixties, so it paid off.”
The moment is one that Benton will surely not forget, breaking not only a school, but also a conference record in his final home opener as a Clemson Tiger. As the ball was in the air, Benton was hoping that it would have a chance to make it through the uprights.
“I was hoping it had enough distance, hoping the wind would pick up more, it guess it had enough on it to get over,” he said. “When it went through it was surreal, I have always dreamed of something like that, it was awesome.”
Swinney, was not surprised at all to see Benton hit a field goal of that distance.
“You are not going to find many guys who are stronger legged, now he is not always accurate, but you do not have to worry about him getting it there,” Swinney said.
The moment the ball went through the uprights is something Benton, as well as Clemson fans will not forget anytime soon.