Safety’s extra effort, hustle against A&M kept Tigers’ national title dreams alive
After Clemson led much of last year’s game at Texas A&M, the Aggies suddenly found themselves seizing control late.
Trailing, 28-20, with 4:03 to play in the game, Kellen Mond quickly engineered a drive that had the Aggies on the Clemson 25-yard line. On third down-and-eight, the quarterback found wide receiver Quartney Davis down field where it appeared he was going to score an ease touchdown.
But Clemson’s K’Von Wallace never gave up on the play and as Davis reached out to put the football over the goal line, the safety punched the ball out of his hands. The football rolled through the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables says the coaches talk about Wallace’s play with their players all the time, a reminder on why they tell them to never give up on a play.
“That was one of a few plays that not only made the difference in the game, but even on the year,” Venables said. “That is what it comes down to sometimes. It was just extraordinary effort. You just don’t ever give up on a play. You never know when that is going to be the difference in the game.
“You just always assume that every play can be the difference in the game.”
Wallace’s effort was again noticed on A&M’s final drive. However, this time it was a little different situation.
The Aggies had the ball at the Clemson 24 with under a minute to play when Mond threw a dart towards the end zone. It appeared Wallace was going to pick the pass off as he dove in front of receiver Kendrick Rogers.
But he closed his hands too soon, and the football deflected right into Rogers’ hands for the touchdown.
It would have been easy for Wallace to give up and mope around on the next play. Instead, he quickly forgot what had happened and intercepted Mond’s 2-point conversion pass in the end zone to secure the Tigers’ 28-26 victory.
“It really just promotes effort and playing with passion and with a sense of desperation on every play,” Venables said.
Wallace finished his afternoon in College Station, Texas with 7 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 2 passes broken up. It could have been more. The safety dropped potentially three interceptions. However, he made the one that counted the most in the end.
And his mentality to never give up, forced a fumble. A fumble that saved a touchdown and the Tigers’ dreams of winning another national championship.
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