Tigers survive thriller at Kyle Field

Tigers survive thriller at Kyle Field

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Tigers survive thriller at Kyle Field

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M nearly pulled off the upset, but in the end, second-ranked Clemson survived the Aggies with a 28-26 victory at Kyle Field Saturday in College Station, Texas.

Safety K’Von Wallace intercepted Kellen Mond’s pass in the end zone on a two-point attempt and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve the victory.

“I am proud of our team man,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “What a dog fight. It is a shame someone has to lose a game like that. When you see two teams that play with such great will to win. It is early in the season and nobody wants to lose.”

The win marked the Tigers first at Kyle Field in three tries, and the first win in the state of Texas since the 1959 Bluebonnet Bowl.

Clemson had its chances to put the game away, like Texas A&M had its opportunity to win it. But in the end, the Tigers made enough plays to get a victory.

Wallace also made a big play on the Aggies’ previous possession. After catching a pass from Mond in the flat, wide receiver Quartney Davis broke toward the Clemson goal line and stretched the ball out towards the goal line. That’s when Wallace hit the football, knocking it out of the end zone for a touchback with 2:13 to play in the game.

“That is what the heart of a champion looks like right there,” Swinney said. “Instead of not getting exposed, he is giving it all he has and he goes and knocks the ball loose and creates a situation. It is a bang-bang play.”

Clemson (2-0) could not pick up a first down and punted it over to the Aggies with 1:12 to play. It took Mond just 26 seconds to find the end zone as Kendrick Rogers made a circus catch, after Wallace tipped the ball, to pull the Aggies within two points, 28-26, with 46 seconds to play.

However, Wallace intercepted the two-point try in the end zone on the game-tying two-point attempt.

Mond diced up the Clemson secondary, throwing for 430 yards on 23 of 30 passing, including three touchdown passes. Texas A&M had 501 total yards overall.

The 501 yards allowed was the most allowed by a Clemson defense since Louisville and Lamar Jackson gained 568 total yards in 2016.

Kelly Bryant played  a motivated second half, guiding the Tigers on two third quarter touchdowns.

After Lawrence failed to pick up a first down on back-to-back possessions, Bryant guided the Tigers on a 4-play, 73-yard scoring drive, keyed by a 50-yard pass to Tee Higgins. He later threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Diondre Overton, giving Clemson a 21-6 lead with 4:49 to play in the third quarter.

When Clemson got the ball back, following Mond’a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rodgers, Bryant hit Hunter Renfrow for a 40-yard pass and later hit his senior wide receiver again for 10 yards on third down to keep the drive going.

Running back Travis Etienne then ran the ball in from a yard out to give the Tigers a 28-13 lead with 1:01 to play in the third quarter.

Bryant finished the night 12 of 17 for 205 yards, while running for 54 yards.

Mont single-handedly kept the Aggies in the game. The sophomore made plays with his legs and his feet as he answered Bryant’s scoring drives with a couple of his own. It took him two plays to take A&M 78 yards, capping it with the 9-yard pass to Rogers to make the score 21-13.

After Clemson made it 28-13, Mond again led the Aggies on a scoring drive, this time a 75-yard drive, which took just six plays to get into the end zone. Mond scrambled and found Quartney Davis for a 14-yard touchdown, making the score 28-20 with 14:07 to play in the game.

Lawrence threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Higgins, while Bryant ran for a score to stake Clemson to a 14-3 halftime lead.

Clemson could have taken command of the game after it moved the football 60 yards to the Aggies’ one-yard line following a blocked field goal by defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. However, on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard, Bryant fumbled the snap and Texas A&M took over on downs at its own four.

Texas A&M (1-1) opened the game with an 11-play, 66-yard drive, but came away with nothing when Daniel LaCamera missed a 26-yard field goal to the right.

On their second drive, the Aggies drove to the Clemson 23 before being stopped. This time LeCamera made a 40-yard field goal with 4:28 to play in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.

The Tigers responded on their next possession as Bryant led the them on a 7-play, 75-yard drive, capping it with a one-yard run. Twice on third down-and-long, the senior picked up first downs, first with a 64-yard catch-and-run from Amari Rodgers and then an 18-yard screen pass to running back Travis Etienne.

Trevor Lawrence made his first appearance on Clemson’s third drive of the game. On his first play, he threw a deep pass down the sideline to wide receiver Tee Higgins, who went up and took the ball out of the air, broke a tackle and then out ran the secondary for a 64-yard touchdown.

Higgins’ catch-and-run for a touchdown gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead 14:13 to play in the first half.

Clemson will play Georgia Southern next Saturday in Death Valley.

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