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Clemson rallies behind Cade Klubnik and defense to beat Syracuse

A weird day in Death Valley had a happy ending

Syracuse v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Clemson’s offense opened the game by slicing through Syracuse’s defense like a hot knife through butter. And then, not a lot else went right in the first half. Clemson’s second drive looked good but ended with a red zone interception. Later on another promising drive DJ Uiagelelei fumbled on a QB keeper and Syracuse ran the it back for a touchdown. Later, on what could’ve been the equalizing drive, DJ was stopped short on fourth down. ‘Cuse promptly marched down the field for a touchdown to go up 21-7 and you could hear a pin drop in Death Valley.

A field goal before halftime eased some of Clemson’s pain, but much work was left to be done. Clemson punted to start off the first half. A great defensive series that included a Tyler Davis sack and a false start penalty led to a punt that Antonio Williams ran to the ‘Cuse 41 had Clemson looking to spark a comeback. Then, Will Shipley uncharacteristically fumbled. It felt ominous. Clemson’s defense continued to hold strong, but Clemson’s offense couldn’t get it going. Another DJ Uiagelelei interception led to backup Cade Klubnik coming in. Cade led the Tigers down the field on a drive kept alive by a late hit penalty and aided by another personal foul. Phil Mafah’s fourth down touchdown put Clemson in striking distance in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers couldn’t convert on the two point conversion. Another great defensive stand happened and then Will Shipley broke off a huge touchdown run to finally put Clemson up. Despite some pressure, Cade Klubnik avoided the sack and made an amazing throw to get the 2 point conversion and put the Tigers up 3.

The next three series saw the teams trade punts. Eventually Clemson was able to put together a drive that culminated in BT Potter nailing a 44 yard field goal, but Clemson up 27-21. Syracuse had one drive left, and had to get in the end zone. Despite some great catches, and moving the ball quickly, Clemson held tough as RJ Mickens intercepted Garrett Shrader to ice the game. On the field Dabo said that DJ is still Clemson’s QB. While Cade provided a spark for the comeback, it would be shortsighted to call for Cade to be the starter after DJ’s improved year. Personally I think we do see more of Cade in some roles now, given the outstanding performance. Clemson is now 8-0, and had the inside track in the ACC Atlantic Division.