The 4-1-1 on Clemson's win over Louisiana Tech

The 4-1-1 on Clemson's win over Louisiana Tech

Football

The 4-1-1 on Clemson's win over Louisiana Tech

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No. 5 Clemson improved to 3-0 late Saturday night with a win over Louisiana Tech at Memorial Stadium. Here are four sequences that went a long way in determining the outcome, a turning point and a telling stat from the Tigers’ 48-20 win.

  • Clemson’s opening possession stalled inside Tech’s 10-yard line, and the Tigers ultimately had to settle for B.T. Potter’s chip-shot field goal. But after the defense forced a Bulldogs punt a few minutes later, quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and Joseph Ngata connected for a highlight-reel chunk play to set up the Tigers’ first touchdown. With Clemson’s offense approaching midfield, Uiagalelei uncorked a pass deep down Tech’s sideline to Ngata, who fully extended to make a 41-yard grab that stood after a video review. Two plays later, Will Shipley powered his way into the end zone from 2 yards out to push Clemson’s lead to 10-0 with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.
  • Tech moved the ball into Clemson territory for the first time early in the second quarter, but Clemson looked to swing momentum back in its favor when the Bulldogs attempted a 56-yard field goal. Payton Page broke through to block the kick, and Barrett Carter picked up the loose ball for the Tigers. But Carter fumbled near the end of his return, and Tech recovered to immediately give possession back to its offense. Tech then used a 31-yard completion from Parker McNeil to Cyrus Allen to quickly move into the red zone. Ultimately, the Bulldogs got their three points when Jacob Barnes capped the strange sequence of events with a 35-yard field goal that got Tech within a touchdown.
  • Tech immediately went backward with a false-start penalty on its opening possession of the second half, and the Bulldogs eventually faced third-and-20 deep in their own territory. Clemson’s defense set the offense up with its best starting field position of the night when linebacker Jeremiah Trotter laid out to intercept McNeil’s pass at Tech’s 32. Shipley wasted no time giving the Tigers some breathing room when he took the handoff on the next play and weaved through the Bulldogs’ defense for his second score of the night to give Clemson a 13-point lead just 20 seconds into the third quarter.
  • With Clemson picking up momentum after a couple of touchdowns early in the second half, Tech tried to take some of it back when first-year coach Sonny Cumbie elected to go for it with his offense facing fourth-and-2 from its own 33. That decision backfired when Justin Mascoll and freshman linebacker Wade Woodaz broke through Tech’s offensive line and dropped Marquis Crosby for a 1-yard loss, setting Clemson’s offense up with its shortest field of the night. Uiagalelei connected with Beaux Collins on the next play for a 32-yard touchdown that extended Clemson’s lead to 34-6 late in the third quarter, a score that put the Tigers well on their way to a another home victory.

Turning point

Clemson led 20-6 early in the third quarter, but Tech, much like it did in the first half, used chunk plays through the air on its second possession of the second half to quickly move into the red zone and threaten to cut into the Tigers’ lead. Instead, Carter tipped McNeil’s next pass into the waiting arms of cornerback Malcolm Greene. Clemson proceeded to piece together its longest drive of the night complete with a fourth-down conversion near midfield, and Phil Mafah capped the 14-play, 90-yard march with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. The score, which gave the Tigers their largest lead at the time (27-6), was part of 21 straight points for Clemson that effectively dashed Tech’s upset hopes.

Telling stat: 4

That’s how many turnovers Clemson forced on a night when the Tigers desperately needed them. For the second straight week, the defense was pedestrian in pass coverage as McNeil threw for 311 yards on just 23 completions. But Clemson finished plus-3 in turnover margin and used back-to-back interceptions in the third quarter to start pulling away, including one that ended Tech’s first red-zone trip in the second half. The Tigers scored 14 points off of those takeaways as part of a 21-point third quarter to start building a lead that put things out of reach.

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