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Key Plays From Week Two Win Over CSU

Charleston Southern v Clemson Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers rebounded from the disappointing week one defeat in Durham with a 66-17 victory over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. A couple of critical errors by the offense in the first half made this game closer on the scoreboard than it should have been at halftime. That drew plenty of scoffing and jeering from social media scoreboard watchers and even some college football “analysts” poked fun and wondered just what on earth was wrong with the Clemson Tigers. Clemson outgained the Buccaneers 265 to 44 in the first half but few these days can be accused of letting facts get in the way of a good narrative. Snarkiness from myself aside, the mistakes made by the offense and Cade Klubnik were a concerning carryover from the Duke game and those concerns will remain in place until it is proven the offense can play a complete game without crippling mistakes and turnovers.

The third quarter quickly put any concerns about the outcome of the game to rest as Clemson overwhelmed Charleston Southern with a barrage of points and defensive stops to pull away as the backups took the field en route to the 66-17 win. What were the key plays that led to the final result?

Cade Klubnik Opens Scoring With TD to Antonio Williams

The Tigers took the ball first and drove down the field without much resistance. The primary issue against Duke (and in the past three losses overall) was the lack of red zone success and the turnovers. Therefore it was good to see the first drive end with a successful trip to the red zone. Cade Klubnik took a shotgun snap with an empty backfield and connected with Antonio Williams for a 10-yard score to make it 7-0 Clemson.

Klubnik Fumble Sets Up CSU Touchdown

The turnover bug reared its ugly head at this point of the game. On fourth-and-one at the Clemson 29-yard line, Cade Klubnik struggled with an exchange to Phil Mafah and fumbled the ball. It was scooped up by Charleston Southern and returned to the one-yard line. One play later, JD Moore scored on a run to the right side of the line to tie the game.

Buccaneers Pick Six

This was the second critical mistake by Cade Klubnik. On third-and-12 with 2:50 remaining in the first quarter, Cade Klubnik was pressured as a blitzer for Charleston Southern broke through the offensive line. Klubnik panicked as he was being sacked. You could see him pressing, trying to make a play to avoid a punt. Of course, a punt would have been a far better result than what happened. Klubnik lobbed a pass while being sacked and it was intercepted by Leon Thomas. Thomas had nothing but green grass in front of him and returned the pick 67 yards for a touchdown. At this point, CSU led 14-7 and eyebrows were officially being raised.

Clemson Responds With 65 Yard Drive for Mafah Score

A response from Clemson was important on the next drive to prevent the unrest from growing louder. The Tigers methodically drove the field, going 61 yards on nine plays. Phil Mafah took a handoff and scored from one-yard out to tie the game. Charleston Southern had no first downs and six yards of offense but the game was tied at 14 at the end of the first quarter.

Touchdown Number Two for Antonio Williams

Clemson took the lead for good on Antonio Williams’ second score of the afternoon. That score was set up by a very nice block by Adam Randall on the outside which allowed Williams to cut in for the touchdown. It was his second touchdown of the day and it put Clemson ahead 21-14. They would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Robert Gunn III Closes the Scoring to End the 1st Half

This particular play is only included because field goals were such an issue against Duke. Clemson converted three separate third down plays before failing on third and goal at the six-yard line. With seconds left remaining in the first half, Robert Gunn III was successful on a 23-yard field goal attempt. That should provide a little bit of confidence for the freshman kicker.

Mafah Opens Second Half With Second TD

The Clemson Tigers made quick work of the Buccaneers in the second half, beginning with a quick forced three and out followed by a five play, 54-yard drive. Phil Mafah finished the drive with a five-yard run up the middle to make it 31-17.

Woodaz Pick Six

On the very next play, Charleston Southern’s Tony Bartalo appeared to have completed a pass but Clemson’s Jeadyn Lukus blasted the receiver and popped the ball out. Wade Woodaz was in the right place at the right time, caught the ball at the 35-yard line and ran it back for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 38-17. Within a few minutes, Clemson had pulled away and put the game to bed.

Beaux Collins To the House

With the score still at 38-17, Clemson faced a third-and-nine at the 31-yard line. Cade Klubnik connected with Beaux Collins as both safeties converged on Antonio Williams in the flat. The defensive miscue opened the middle of the field for Collins and he exploited it for a 69-yard touchdown. Collins loafed a bit at the end of the play and nearly cost himself a touchdown but he managed to cross the goal line just as he was caught from behind.

Clemson eventually racked up three more touchdowns as backups and third-stringers put the hurt on the Buccaneers. The Tigers won 66-17 and outgained CSU 679 yards to just 73.