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Clemson vs. Boston College: Tigers Start Slow Then Rout The Eagles

Clemson beats Boston College 34-7 in a game that was closer than the score would indicate.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Clemson
B.C defenders bring down Travis Etienne, a rare sight today in Death Valley.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson returned to Death Valley to take on Boston College after thumping Louisville on the road. Unfortunately I missed the first seven minutes of the game because my satellite TV provider thought the game was supposed to be blacked out. But the broadcast came on after about twenty minutes and I watched Will Spiers make a long punt, but B.C. had a nice return for about 17 yards. The Tiger defense then throttled the Eagle offense.

With just under three minutes left in the 1st quarter, the Tiger offense took over and moved the ball well on a run by Kelly Bryant and a catch by Milan Richard. But then the Eagles’ Harold Landry overpowered Mitch Hyatt, hitting Bryant’s arm as he threw and B.C. picked it off. The Tiger defense forced a field goal attempt on that possession and the damage ended up being nothing, as the ball hit the upright and bounced out.

The Tigers didn’t do much on the next series, other than show Bryant’s ability to avoid the rush. B.C.’s defense was playing well. The Eagle offense started well, moving the ball with the run game, but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced another punt. Unfortunately the B.C. punter pinned the Tigers offense deep once again.

The Tiger offense started the next drive well, including a fumble by Bryant that was picked up and run for several yards by Taylor Hearn. Travis Etienne came in and sparked the excitement in Death Valley with his quick acceleration. With Tavien Feaster coming in and keeping the run game going, the Tigers moved the ball down the field and Bryant scored on an 11-yard run, aided by a good block by Feaster. The Tiger offense was finally in sync and the score was 7-0.

The Eagle offense again moved the ball well with a power running game and very good blocking, but the Tiger defense forced another punt. And the Tigers again started inside their own ten yard line. After a slow start, the Tigers started moving down the field, but B.C. had Bryant’s number on a 3rd and 2 and forced a punt. B.C. responded with another drive that started well, but the Tiger defense ended it with a Trayvon Mullen interception with less than two minutes left in the half. The Tigers couldn’t make much of it, though, and the half ended.

Clemson got the ball to start the second half and had a good drive going, but Bryant was a bit off on a throw to Hunter Renfrow and the ball was tipped into the hands of a B.C. defender. The Eagle offense took over and completed a nice downfield throw on Mullen to move into Tiger territory. And, I feel like I’m repeating myself here, the Tiger defense forced a punt that pinned the Tigers deep. The Tiger coaches kept the play calls conservative and the offense could do no more than a 3 and out. B.C. ran the punt back 36 yards to give their offense good field position. To this point, the Tiger kicking teams were not having the best day.

B.C. responded with a well-executed drive, often catching the Tiger defense looking to the sideline for their play call. They punched it into the end zone to tie the score at 7-7. Death Valley was uncharacteristically quiet, and everyone knew that the Tigers needed an offensive spark. Etienne returned the kickoff to the Clemson 28, giving the offense better field position than they had seen most of the day. The Tigers tried to get the run going, but the offensive line wasn’t getting much push and on third down Bryant was hit by an untouched blitzing defender as he was throwing. After a review, the incomplete pass call was upheld and the Tigers punted. The Tiger defense then held B.C. and forced a 3 and out.

The Tigers got the ball at the start of the 4th quarter. During the drive, they dodged a bullet when C.J. Fuller fumbled but Milan Richard recovered it. Diondre Overton made a beautiful leaping sideline catch to put the Tigers at the 7 yard line and Adam Choice did a nice job of getting his pads down to punch it in on the next play. The Tigers regained the lead at 14-7.

B.C. took over with about twelve minutes left in the game. Mullen made a tackle on the drive and took a shot to the head. Hopefully he is not seriously injured. The Tiger defense forced another B.C. punt and the Tigers took over at their 10 yard line with about ten minutes left. As the drive was going, I kept thinking “Etienne is fresh and the B.C. defensive line is tired.” He came in and and did what he did last week, break tackles and score on a long run. Tigers up 21-7.

The defense stuffed B.C. and Ray-Ray McCloud had a long punt return to put the Tigers deep in Eagle territory. Bryant ran it in but the point after was not successful, giving the Tigers a 27-7 lead. Freshman A.J. Terrell picked off a B.C. pass and the Tigers got the ball back in good field position. Etienne got into the end zone again. A close game through three quarters was suddenly a rout, 34-7.

B.C. kept it closer than I think many would have predicted, but the Tigers eventually wore them down. Next week Clemson is back on the road against a good Virginia Tech team. Check back with us here at STS over the next few days for the best in-depth analysis you’ll find of today’s game and next week’s game in Blacksburg. Let us know what you think of today’s game in the comments below.