Clemson "Shell-shocked" by Maryland
I believe the visiting team has won the last 6, but I could be wrong.... Either way, this is the proverbial nail in thier coffin...
September 28, 2008
Clemson University shell-shocked by Terrapins
By Ed McGranahan
CLEMSON -- When Clemson needed a knockout punch, the Tigers had nothing remaining in the tank.
Fourth down, less than a yard to go at the Maryland 40-yard line and more than 5 minutes to play, Clemson put the onus on quarterback Cullen Harper rather than tailbacks James Davis or C.J. Spiller, who had combined for 224 rushing yards.
Harper was stuffed on a sneak and Maryland ran out the clock to preserve a 20-17 victory Saturday afternoon.
“You got to be able to make fourth and 10 inches,” head coach Tommy Bowden said. “You gotta be able to make that to beat a good team.
“It was literally 10 inches.”
Inches or yards or miles, it couldn’t have been more disheartening.
The Clemson fans among the 81,500 who packed into Death Valley were numb. The players were crushed.
“This is one of the most disheartening losses I’ve ever had,” tight end Michael Palmer said. “I don’t know what happened. It’s hard to describe.”
At 3-2 and 1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Tigers are likely to drop out of the polls again. And the road isn’t any less treacherous with six more conference games ahead, including Thursday, Oct. 9 at Wake Forest.
Maryland (4-1, 1-0) came into Death Valley as a 10-point underdog and beat Clemson again in a heartbreaker, leaving Clemson fans to wonder what’s to become of the season of promise.
“With the expectations we’ve had it’s not where we want to be right now,” Palmer said. “The fact of the matter is we are. There’s nothing we can do about the past.”
The game turned on one big punch that knocked the Tigers back on their heels, and several counter punches that dropped them to the mat.
“We kind of self-destructed offensively,” Bowden said.
The facts bear him out. Even as they built a 17-6 lead in the first half, there was an undercurrent of trouble.
Davis and Spiller had each ripped off nice touchdown runs and kicker Mark Buchholz hit a 26-yard field goal, but it felt as if there should have been more.
In their first possession, third-and-3 at the Maryland 9, Harper overthrew Tyler Grisham near the goal line and the Tigers settled for a field goal.
After Spiller’s 35-yard TD run made it 10-0, the Tigers gave Maryland prime field position when Jacoby Ford fumbled a punt and the Terrapins recovered at the Clemson 18.
The defense held and Obi Egekeze kicked the first of two field goals to make it 10-3.
On the next possession, Harper tried a lateral to Aaron Kelly that Andre Moten knocked down and recovered at the Clemson 30.
The defense held again, and Egekeze made it 10-6 with 10:55 to play in the second quarter.
After Davis’ 38-yard TD make it 17-6, Harper tried to hit Kelly deep in the final minute, but Jamari McCollough intercepted at the Maryland 17.
Clemson stopped the Terrapins to open the second half and Spiller ripped off a 59-yard TD run, but it was called back for holding on Kelly. Also in the drive, on second-and-3 at the Maryland 40, the Tigers are charged with a substitution violation.
They punt the ball into the end zone and on first down at the 20, Darrius Heyward-Bey dashed 76 yards with a reverse to the Clemson 4 to set up a touchdown pass from Chris Turner to Torrey Smith.
A drive in the fourth quarter is killed at the 24 by a false start.
The final indignation comes on third-and-18 at the Clemson 43.
Spiller called it his “heart” play. Still gimpy from a cramp early in the quarter, he caught a pass over the middle, made a nice move to get outside and dove, landing “10 inches” short of a first down.
“We just came out on fire,” said Palmer. “Everyone was geeked up, ready to go. I don’t know what happened.”
Bowden acknowledged the potential breadth of disappointment.
“It’s going to be a long 10 days or whatever,” he said, “to the next game.”