Much like Trevor Lawrence on offense, James Skalski being able to suit up in the rematch against Notre Dame after being sidelined in the regular season matchup made a big difference for the Clemson defense in the first half of Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.
The Tigers’ senior middle linebacker led a strong team defensive effort in the first two quarters, posting five tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry to help No. 3 Clemson limit second-ranked Notre Dame’s scoring to just a field goal and enter halftime with a 24-3 lead over the Irish at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Skalski, of course, missed the regular season game at Notre Dame due to a groin injury, while Lawrence had to sit out the contest in South Bend as well because he was still in COVID-19 protocols.
Without Skalski in the first meeting with Notre Dame, Clemson’s defense gave up 23 points and 245 total yards in the first half, including 144 on the ground, against Ian Book, Kyren Williams and the Irish offense.
In the opening half Saturday, Skalski and the Tigers sacked Book three times and tallied six tackles for loss while holding Williams to 37 yards on 10 carries and allowing only three points on a Jonathan Doerer 51-yard field goal in the first quarter.
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