Clemson Football: Strong Defense Helps Tigers Avoid Scare Against Boston College Eagles

By Colby Lanham
Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables has to be pleased with his unit's performance against Boston College.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The No.3 Clemson Tigers had its hands fuller than expected against the Boston College Eagles, but a strong performance by its defense prevented BC from reaching the end zone, and the Tigers’ offense remained just solid enough to score 14 points in the fourth quarter to win an ugly 24-14 game to remain undefeated and avoid an upset in a weekend filled with them.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd went 30-of-44 for 334 yards and a touchdown, but the offense continually shot itself in the foot with penalties and stalled drives. Both running backs Rod McDowell and Zac Brooks committed fumbles on potential scoring drives, and the offense had trouble dealing with the Eagles’ blitzes on a regular basis. But, it’s thanks to the Tigers’ defense that its offense got more opportunities than it could have had.

The Tigers held the nation’s leading rusher Andre Williams to 70 rushing yards on 24 carries, a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. They held the Eagles to 92 yards rushing overall for the game and 286 total yards. After a long run by running back Myles Willis to put the Eagles ahead 7-0, the defense kept them out of the end zone until the middle of the third quarter and they never scored after the fact.

The game-changing play of the game came thanks to national sacks leader Vic Beasley, who came up with the fumble return for a touchdown thanks to the strip sack by linebacker Tony Steward.

Thanks to its defense, the Tigers’ offense got on the board in the second half thanks to a six-yard touchdown run by Boyd and a 48-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins led all receivers on the day with seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Adam Humphries, coming off of a 118-yard, two-touchdown performance against Syracuse, finished with a career-high nine receptions for 81 yards.

Martavis Bryant finished the day with two receptions for 48 yards. On the ground, McDowell finished with 91 yards on 16 carries, his most yards on the ground since the season opener against Georgia, while Brooks finished second with 42 yards on six carries. Boyd also finished as the third-leading rusher with 33 yards on the ground.

The Tigers fought out their win against Boston College, and while they didn’t start out with the fast ball they’ve had the last two weeks, they got the job done. Now, they can turn their attention and return to the national stage to face off against freshman sensation Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles in a prime ACC matchup. Only this time, national championship implications are on the line.

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