Third-ranked Clemson fell to No. 5 Georgia, 10-3, on Saturday night in the Duke’s Mayo Classic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Here’s a look back at how the Bulldogs came out on top in the marquee season-opening matchup:
Georgia entered the halftime locker room with a 7-0 lead thanks to stellar defensive play. The Bulldogs broke a scoreless tie with 2:58 to play in the second quarter on a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown by Christopher Smith.
Georgia added to its lead with 2:38 to go in the third quarter when Jack Podlesny knocked in a chip-shot 22-yard field goal to make it a 10-0 game.
Clemson’s offense finally got something going late in the game against Georgia, putting together a drive to get on the scoreboard and cut into the Bulldogs’ lead. B.T. Potter booted a 22-yard field goal at the 9:08 mark of the fourth quarter to trim the Tigers’ deficit to 10-3.
However, it was too little, too late. Clemson got the ball back with 7:36 remaining, but later failed to convert a fourth-and-5 attempt. It resulted in a turnover on downs, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock to seal the victory.
What went right?
The performance of Clemson’s defense was commendable and kept the Tigers in the game despite not much help from the offense. Clemson held Georgia to three offensive points and didn’t allow a defensive touchdown.
Offensively, wide receiver Joseph Ngata was a bright spot, tallying six receptions for 110 yards on eight targets.
What went wrong?
Clemson’s offense was stifled for most of the game and failed to capitalize on a couple of key opportunities – specifically, the special teams miscue by Georgia late in the second quarter and the interception by Baylon Spector early in the third quarter.
After Georgia muffed a punt around the five-minute mark of the second frame that was recovered by Clemson, the Tigers took over at the 50-yard line, but the possession ended in the aforementioned pick-six that resulted in the first points of the game for the Bulldogs.
In the third quarter, following the interception by Spector, Clemson gained possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. But again, the Tigers were unable to take advantage when back-to-back sacks pushed Clemson out of field goal range and forced a punt.
All in all, Clemson’s offense totaled only 180 yards — including just 2 rushing yards — while allowing seven sacks and turning it over once.
The critical turning point in the game came late in the second quarter when Smith jumped in front of a D.J. Uiagalelei pass intended for Justyn Ross and intercepted it before returning it 74 yards for a pick-six.
The game-changing play occurred after what appeared to be a potential game-changing play in the Tigers’ favor. Around the five-minute mark of the second quarter, Georgia muffed a punt and gave the Tigers the ball at midfield, but Clemson was unable to take advantage due to the pick-six.
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks