Third-ranked Clemson fought through injuries on a cold night in Blacksburg, Va., last week on its way to a 45-10 win over Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium.
The linebacker group lost James Skalski after the first series of the game for precautionary reasons and reserve linebacker Jake Venables, who broke his arm early in the game. But LaVonta Bentley stepped up with big plays when the Tigers needed him most.
The redshirt freshman the game with four tackles and led the team with 1.5 sack on the game for a loss of 10 yards.
Bentley has formed a habit of making big plays when the opportunity presents itself. He joined Xavier Thomas, Baylon Spector and Myles Murphy for the team lead in sacks, with 3.5 on the year.
With less than four minutes to play in the third quarter, Bentley came in clutch and combined to sack Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister for nine-yard loss on a critical third down to force a punt. While the Tigers did not make a trip to the endzone in the following drive, the stop was crucial and kept the Hokies from forcing a one possession game.
The linebacker struck again in the fourth quarter and came up big with a solo sack of Knox Kadum for a loss of five yards on fourth and four.
Bentley has proved himself as a playmaker for the Tigers who steps up when his name is called. The freshman has made a massive impact in a battered linebacker group and shows promise of making an impact for years to come.
Clemson returns to action in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 19 in a rematch with No. 2 Notre Dame.