Clemson defense bails out struggling offense in eventual 34-7 win over Boston College
CLEMSON — For weeks, the national talk has swirled around Clemson’s defense, a unit praised for its utter dominance.
For days leading up to the season, though, Brent Venables, was cautiously optimistic. The defensive coordinator warned the Tigers’ fanbase that this unit had yet to prove anything. A guru in how prepares, Venables wanted to see what happened as the season ensued.
Saturday, his defense ran the show. Again.
In Clemson’s 34-7 victory over the Eagles at Death Valley, it was the Tigers’ defense who bailed out the rest of the team for most of the afternoon as the offense struggled to find any semblance of rhythm until the middle of the fourth quarter once Boston College was worn down.
Trayvon Mullen notched the first career of his interception. A.J. Terrell followed suit in the fourth quarter. Of its 13 drives, Clemson forced Boston College to punt the ball nine times, with the other four drives consisting of two interceptions, a Boston College touchdown and a missed Eagles field goal attempt.
The Tigers held the Eagles to 97 yards on the ground with five different rushers and Boston College was just four of 16 on third downs.
The Clemson offense certainly appreciated the boost.
Clemson struggled mightily to find a spark on offense to open Saturday, a theme that only loomed as the afternoon unfolded until the Tigers broke through in the fourth quarter. The Tigers’ first four series of the game resulted in three punts and an interception after a Boston College defender knocked Kelly Bryant’s arm on the throw. The only score of the half came when Bryant scampered into the end zone on an 11-yard run in the second quarter, capping off a 13-drive, 94-play score.
Clemson led the Eagles 7-0 at the half, then opened the third quarter equally as lackluster as it did to open the game. Boston College found the scoreboard in the third quarter to tie it up when freshman running back AJ Dillon bulldozed his way into the end zone on a 1-yard gain. As the kick went through the uprights, Death Valley grew quieter than ever before this season. Fans who did decide to say something aired their grievances in the open.
Clemson running back Adam Choice broke the tie with 11:59 to play in the game when he wrestled his way into the end zone on a 6-yard run that put the Tigers back on top 14-7. It ended up being the first of four touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Tigers came alive in the waning minutes of play. Freshman running back Travis Etienne broke through for two touchdowns and Bryant added another, putting Clemson’s total rushing yardage for the day at a whopping 342 yards.
As Clemson moves ahead to a road game under the lights next week at Virginia Tech, certainly the Tigers have plenty to address in practice this week heading into what will be a hostile environment in another national matchup.
Game time is set for 8 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.