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“When you look at that game, it’s been a long time since we haven’t played real sharp and won by 30,” he said. “Offensively, we were not very sharp. We missed some open passes and had some penalties. I think we left probably 17 points on the field at halftime.”
As much as Bowden downplayed the Tigers’ success in a 37-7 victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium, there were some positives on which he and the fans can focus.
First and foremost, there was a win, which improves Clemson to 4-3 overall, while remaining at 2-3 in the ACC. Secondly, only one injury occurred and the seriousness of starting nose guard Donnell Clark’s injury to his left knee is unknown.
Also, wide receiver Aaron Kelly set an all-time school record for freshmen with 120 yards receiving and tailback Reggie Merriweather ran for 108 yards on 17 carries.
Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst became the school’s all-time career leader in total yardage. He finished the game with 19-of-27 passing for 307 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Defensively, Clemson held the Owls (0-8) to 12 yards rushing on 33 carries, but they did connect for 331 yards of passing, albeit they came on 44 attempts.
“You’ve just got to get a win and get out and move on,” Whitehurst said. “I think we accomplished that, but we’ve got some things to work on for sure.”
From the outset, it was painfully obvious the Owls were going to be no match for Clemson on this day. The final score was going to come down to how many miscues the Tigers were going to commit. Very little of the outcome was going to be determined by what Temple did.
On Clemson’s fifth play of the game, Whitehurst hooked up with tailback Kyle Browning for a 41-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to put the Tigers up 7-0 with 11:19 left in the first quarter.
On their second possession, the Tigers once again drove the field, but an interception at the Temple 20 stopped that scoring threat. The very next possession for Clemson, it had the ball second-and-goal from inside the one, but due to a five-yard penalty, a run for little gain and an incomplete pass, the Tigers were forced to kick a field goal to make it 10-0 with 1:33 left in the opening quarter.
Following another Clemson touchdown in the second quarter, the Tigers were poised to add more points, but placekicker Jad Dean missed a 42-yard field goal wide left to keep it at 17-0.
A big positive for the Tigers came at the end of the first half when Temple had got it to the Clemson 3, but tailback Umar Ferguson fumbled to end the scoring threat.
“We got a little something going there towards the end of the half, but then we fumbled it,” Temple coach Bobby Wallace said. “It was kind of ironic because 17-7 was the score at halftime when we beat Virginia Tech when they were number 10 in the country (in 1998). I had that same feeling.
“If we could have punched it in right there, we would have had a lot of momentum at halftime.”
The second half saw much of the same as the first as the Tigers eventually built a 30-0 lead, before each team added a touchdown.
The game was never in doubt. It wasn’t even close for a quarter. Was it a pretty win for the Tigers? No, but it was a solid victory and that’s all that matters.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever come in here doing cartwheels, because you always leave something on the table,” Bowden said. “I would have liked to have won 65-0. But right now, where we’ve come from and the type of games we’ve had around here, 30-point is something we’ll take.
“I need to learn to be happy.”