Clemson leans on defense to down Boston College

clemfoot-stoudt2Two weeks in a row, the Clemson defense has needed to make one final stop to give the Tigers a win. And two weeks in the row, the Clemson defense has done just that.

C.J. Davidson scored from 32 yards out with 9:35 remaining and Clemson’s relentless defense held from there in a 17-13 win over Boston College on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. The Tigers moved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC, while the Eagles fell to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.

BC quarterback Tyler Murphy did plenty of scrambling in the second half and had his team in Tiger territory late in the fourth quarter. But the Clemson defense forced four straight incompletions from the 26-yard-line and the Tigers preserved their sixth win in seven tries for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy.

“Two weeks in a row our defense has had to stand up four downs in a row in the redzone and they got it done,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “This was another character win, the second week in a row.”

The Tigers held the Eagles to just 120 yards rushing, no small feat considering BC came into the game with a top-5 rushing offense.

“We’ll take it,” a relieved defensive coordinator Brent Venables said after the game.  “You feel like you need a therapist after a game like that. But we found a way to win and made some huge stops.

“We have to be better disciplined. We’re going to have to rep all those trick plays in practice until we learn how to stop them. But I love our guys for the resolve and the fight that they showed. They were a top-5 rushing team in the country and we really shut them down.”

Cole Stoudt played well in his first start since the Florida State game. The senior finished with a career-high 29 completions on 45 attempts for 285 yards. He directed the Tigers to 398 yards of total offense and 22 first downs on the day.

“I still had a lot of shoulder pain this week but I just tried to battle,” Stoudt said. “Our coaches put together a great game plan and it was great team effort to get this done today.”

Wayne Gallman scored the first Tiger touchdown, scampering in from 17 yards out for his first career touchdown. Gallman finished with 15 carries for 39 yards, while another Tiger freshman, wideout Artavis Scott, hauled in 10 passes for 72 yards. Mike Williams had eight grabs for 128 yards to lead all receivers.

After BC took a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter, the Clemson offense responded when they needed it most. On third-and-long in a driving rain, Stoudt found Williams down the sideline for a 32-yard gain. A few plays later, Davidson found paydirt from 32 yards out to put the Tigers up by four.

Clemson’s defense took advantage of several miscues from the BC offense, including a big drop in the first quarter on a potential touchdown pass and an underthrow on a successful reverse play in the third quarter. The Eagles also had several offensive penalties in the second half and a missed extra point, which forced them to go for a touchdown on the final drive.

“We saw a lot of contributions from a lot of guys,” said Swinney. “The thing that I was the most proud of is that we were able to rush for two touchdowns in two redzone situations.

“We knew it was going to be slugfest. That’s a quality win.”

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