The 411 on Clemson's win over Florida State

The 411 on Clemson's win over Florida State

Football

The 411 on Clemson's win over Florida State

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Clemson (5-3, 4-2 ACC) outlasted Florida State (3-5, 2-3) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium to run the nation’s longest active home winning streak to 32 games. Here are four sequences that went a long way toward determining the outcome, a turning point and a telling stat from the Tigers’ 30-20 win.

  • Clemson trailed 6-3 after B.T. Potter missed on a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but the Tigers got the ball right back for the offense with their first three and out of the day. Clemson then quickly got in business when Phil Mafah ripped off Clemson’s longest play from scrimmage with a 63-yard scamper that got the Tigers into the red zone. The Tigers netted just 3 yards on their next two plays, setting up third-and-7 from FSU’s 11-yard line. Clemson lined up tight end Davis Allen out wide, and Uiagalelei lofted a pass his way toward the back corner of the end zone. Davis came down with it to give the Tigers a 10-6 lead with 8 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half.
  • FSU didn’t need long to answer Clemson’s first touchdown. The Seminoles found a matchup of their own that they liked when they sent Lawrance Toafili out of the backfield against Clemson linebacker LaVonta Bentley on the first play of their next possession. Toafili raced past Bentley down the sideline, and Jordan Travis hit him in stride. Cornerback Sheridan Jones eventually caught up to him but couldn’t get him on the ground as Toafili landed on top of him, maintained his balance and ran the rest of the way for a 75-yard touchdown. But the teams continued to go back and forth when Clemson responded with a 10-play, 83-yard scoring drive. The Tigers got plays of 14, 19, 11 and 22 yards to quickly approach to the goal line before Will Shipley polished off the possession with a 2-yard touchdown plunge to put Clemson back in front with 3:41 left before halftime. 
  • After a fourth-down stand near midfield coming out of the locker room, Clemson had a chance to further extend its lead when Potter lined up for a 37-yard field goal, but his kick missed the mark. Clemson followed that up with another stop before Uiagalalei was intercepted by Shyheim Brown on an underthrown ball down the sideline intended for Joseph Ngata, setting FSU’s offense up at Clemson’s 42. But the Tigers’ defense bowed up once again with another three and out to preserve a 17-13 lead for the time being.
  • After dodging a bullet on Uiagalelei’s interception earlier in the second half, Clemson had some momentum when he connected with Justyn Ross for 25 yards on third-and-6 to move the Tigers into FSU territory. But two plays later, Clemson ran a slow-developing screen that FSU sniffed out. Uiagalelei eventually forced a pass into E.J. Williams in the slot, and Williams was immediately hit. It caused a fumble that FSU’s Amari Gainer recovered at the Seminoles’ 41. But Clemson’s defense got the ball right back on the next play when Treshaun Ward fumbled. Freshman safety Andrew Mukuba pounced on the loose ball at FSU’s 46 and ultimately set up another field-goal attempt for Potter, this one from 30 yards out, but the senior pulled this one left for his third miss of the day with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. It came back to bite the Tigers when FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson knocked the ball out of Uiagalelei’s hand on Clemson’s next third down. The ball popped off the turf and into Johnson’s arms, and Johnson covered the rest of the grass in front of him for the short scoop and score to give FSU a 20-17 lead with 7:39 left. 

Turning point

Clemson’s offense held on to the ball long enough to quickly answer FSU’s defensive touchdown, using the help of a pass-interference penalty and a personal foul to move to FSU’s 21 during the latter part of the fourth quarter. Shipley provided the capper on the next play when he weaved through the Seminoles’ defense for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Tigers ahead with 2:53 remaining. The defense then thwarted FSU’s final comeback attempt when Ruke Orhorhoro caught up to a scrambling Travis for a third-down sack in FSU territory. It forced the Seminoles to punt and use all of their timeouts, leading to a defensive touchdown for Clemson in a scramble situation as time expired.

Telling stat: 188

That’s how many yards Clemson rushed for, keeping their recent uptick going in that department. The Tigers came in averaging 170 rushing yards over the previous three games, and despite not having leading rusher Kobe Pace available because of COVID-19 protocols, they averaged nearly 5 yards per carry to help overcome an uncharacteristically poor performance on special teams and a passing game that continues to be hit or miss. Shipley led the way with a game-high 128 yards on 25 carries, including the 21-yarder that put Clemson ahead for good late in the fourth quarter. The Tigers’ defense deserves a tip of the cap, too, limiting the nation’s 13th-ranked rushing attack coming in to just 68 yards on 34 carries.

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