Clemson starts slow but beats Boston College, 34-7
By Alex Maminakis
CLEMSON — It wasn’t pretty, but the No. 2 Clemson Tigers took care of business on Saturday.
Clemson used 27 unanswered fourth-quarter points to defeat Boston College at Memorial Stadium, 34-7.
The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 ACC) didn’t score first until the 5:56 mark of the second quarter when quarterback Kelly Bryant found the end zone from 11 yards out, and led just 7-0 at halftime, but Clemson put the game away late after Boston College (1-3, 0-2 ACC) tied it at 7-7 in the third quarter.
“It’s always good to get a win because it’s so hard to come by, especially when you’re getting everybody’s best shot. Of course, we didn’t play as good as we needed to play, but we got the win,” Bryant said on Monday. “We’re gonna learn from it, but it shows a lot about our team that if adversity kicks in, we’re gonna stick together, we’re gonna keep playing. It’s a four-quarter game, we’ve got that four quarter mentality here.”
Clemson collected 482 yards of total offense on Saturday, 342 of which came on the ground. Tavien Feaster got the start at running back for the Tigers and ran for 73 yards, but it was freshman Travis Etienne who led the team in rushing with 113 yards on nine carries, including two fourth quarter touchdowns of 50 yards and 10 yards.
“It felt great — best experience I’ve had so far,” Etienne said after the game of his performance in front of the home crowd. “Just going out there and being able to make big plays for my team when we need them … (co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott) put me in the right spot to do that.”
Etienne was named the ACC Freshman of the Week for his performance and was awarded the annual O’Rourke-McFadden MVP leather helmet after the game.
Clemson had 222 yards of offense at halftime and had trouble putting together offensive drives, partly because of field position. Four of the Tigers’ first six drives started inside their own 10-yard line. Clemson also went 8-for-16 on third-down conversions, but ultimately pulled ahead with its 27-point fourth quarter.
“Really pleased with the way the guys responded to the adversity. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said Monday. “Games are not always gonna go how you may have them planned. It’s how quickly you can get it corrected and improved during the game.”
Defensively, the Tigers were able to limit Boston College’s production to 238 total yards of offense, including 97 rushing yards and 12 first downs. Kendall Joseph led the way on defense with 12 tackles, followed by Tanner Muse with nine, and the Clemson defense recorded two interceptions and one sack. The coaches and players spoke highly of the team’s complementary play on Saturday, and how all three phases mesh.
“We have to appreciate the grind of games, and when they get tough we have to be there for the offense and for the special teams. That’s what a team is,” Joseph said. “Regardless of how the offense is playing, that doesn’t control how we (on defense) play.”
Bryant completed 17-of-26 pass attempts for 140 yards against Boston College and threw two interceptions. He’s watched the game film and recognized the mistakes he will focus on correcting this week to improve this Saturday when the Tigers travel to Blacksburg to face No. 12 Virginia Tech.
“I missed the deep ball by a few steps. It’s just some things we can work on throughout practice and throughout the week, just small things,” the junior quarterback said. “It’s nothing really big, but little things can lead to big things later on down the road.”