If Steve Addazio's plan was to kill the Clemson defense with kindness, well, it didn't work.
All week long, we heard about how great the Clemson defense was heading into the BC-Clemson showdown. The Clemson defense lived up to its billing, stifling the Eagles offense for much of the afternoon en route to a 17-13 victory.
The two teams were locked in a defensive struggle and field position battle during the first quarter.
Clemson seemingly dodged two bullets early. On their second possession of the game, on a 2nd and 11 from their own 8 yard line, the Eagles defense pushed Stoudt all the way back to behind his own goalline. The Tigers QB managed to unload the ball, but it didn't cross the line of scrimmage and appeared to be nowhere even close to a Clemson eligible receiver. The coaching staff didn't challenge the play on a play that looked like it could have been a BC safety.
The Tigers offense would advance the ball to their own 47 on the drive, but the Eagles D would eventually force a punt.
Josh Bordner also dropped what would've been an enormous gain--possibly even six--on a seam route that caught the Clemson defense off guard. The converted WR also had a personal foul penalty negate a first down on the previous drive. Wasn't the best of starts for BC's leading receiver.
At the end of one quarter of play, the Eagles offense could only muster 20 positive yards (23 rushing, -3 passing) and only managed 1 first down (on a nice Myles Willis run). BC went 3-and-out on two of its first three possessions, giving Clemson a short field to work with to start the second quarter. The Tigers offense made BC pay, engineering a four play, 50 yard drive capped by a 19-yard Wayne Gallman touchdown.
After trading 3-and-outs on the next possession, Murphy needed just three plays to drive 63 yards for the game-tying touchdown. The drive, aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty, was capped by a 26-yard Murphy-to-Alston wheel route touchdown. 7-7, Birds.
The two defenses came up with stops on the next two possessions, giving Clemson the ball at the 25 with 3:21 to go. At this point, giving up points right before the half is some sick, twisted joke...so of course Boston College's defense once again obliged fans. Clemson QB Cole Stoudt engineered a 12 play, 69 yard drive that ended in a 23-yard Ammon Lakip FG to give the Tigers a 10-7 halftime lead. Stoudt converted on all three third downs on the drive, including a 13-yard scramble on 3rd and 10 from the BC 19.
Overall, I felt like BC got badly out-played on both sides of the ball in the first half, but fortunately only found themselves down 10-7. In the first half, BC was out-gained 205-68. The offense went 0-for-6 on third down while the defense gave up six third down conversions (6-of-11). With all the 3-and-outs on offense, BC even lost the time of possession battle in the first half, 16:51 to 13:09.
Much like the first quarter, the third devolved into a punt fest with neither defense giving up much in the way of positive yards. The two teams combined for a total of six punts--three a piece--with only five offensive plays in the other teams end (all Clemson).
Early fourth quarter, the defense managed a stop on a 3rd and 11, which gave BC the ball back at their own 16. On 1st down, Murphy dialed up Dan Crimmins for a huge 48 yard pitch-and-catch to put the Eagles on the Clemson side of the field for the first time in the second half. Three plays later, BC decided to convert its first third down of the day, which obviously couldn't come at a better time. Clemson brought pressure, Murphy bootlegged and rolled to his right and just as he was about to run out of bounds found Chris Callinan doubling back on his route for a 15-yard gain and a first down.
On the next play, Myles Willis rattled off his second big gain of the day to bring the Eagles down to the Clemson 5 yard line. After Hilliman lost a yard on first down, Murphy scrambled, threw completely across his body and found Bordner in the other corner of the end zone for a 6-yard TD catch. Redemption!
The play was reviewed but the officials didn't see enough to overturn the call. Of course, it wouldn't be a proper BC game without a missed kick of some kind. Freshman kicker Mike Knoll obliged us all by shanking the PAT after the touchdown. 13-10, Birds.
As the rain started to fall early in the fourth quarter, Clemson wasted no in answering the Eagles' TD drive. Cole Stoudt connected with Mike Williams on catches of 32 and 12 yards, and C.J. Davidson took the ball 32 yards for a Tigers TD. 17-13, Tigers.
After trading possessions, BC took over on their own 18 with 3:25 to play. On 2nd and 9 from their own 19, Tyler Murphy did his thing...somehow evading pressure and light jogging his way 43 yards downfield. BC would take a couple more shots downfield and had the GW TD dialed up, but Tyler Rouse dropped what would have been a sure-fire touchdown. On 4th and 15, Murphy looked like he had a receiver open, but missed him. Ballgame.
The Eagles played well enough to win on offense, but some brutal drops and missed opportunities cost them dearly. BC wasted an otherwise brilliant performance from Murphy, who despite a rather pedestrian stat line--8-of-19 passing, 108 yards, 2 TDs--played pretty well. The Eagles' QB continues to do incredible things with his legs. Sure would've been nice to knock in a game-tying field goal on that last drive. Alas.
The defensive matchup largely lived up to its billing, though BC's defense couldn't get off the field on third down which more or less proved to be the difference in this one. With the loss, Boston College falls to 4-3, 1-2 ACC on the year. Clemson improves to 5-2 and 4-1 in conference. The Eagles are back in action next weekend against Wake Forest.
Full recap coming soon. Leave your thoughts on the game below.