CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – James Davis didn’t even watch the extra point in double overtime. Duane Coleman didn’t, either. They, like the rest of the 44,500 people in attendance just assumed it was a foregone conclusion.
But you know what happens when you assume. Jad Dean’s extra point attempt was blocked, which gave Boston College an opportunity to win the game.
And that’s exactly what happened.
L.V. Whitworth’s six-yard run and Ryan Ohliger’s extra point gave the Eagles a 34-33 victory over No. 18 Clemson Saturday evening at Alumni Stadium.
“We lost getting to the ACC Championship just by one point last year,” Coleman, a senior cornerback, said. “We lost three games by 14 points last year and had we gotten just one extra point somewhere, we would have been playing for the ACC Championship.”
Dean said he’s not quite sure what happened.
“I hit the ball solid, but my get-off time must have been a little slow,” he said. “I keep my head down, so I’m not really sure what kind of penetration there was on the play. But it sounded like two different players hit it.”
Officially, Jolonn Dunbar was credited with the block.
“That’s what we expect out of Jolonn,” Boston College coach Tom O’Brien said. “He’s a captain and he’s the leader of the defense. That obviously was a huge play in the game.”
Dunbar said a flaw in Clemson’s formation allowed him to get penetration.
“When they lined up, their tight end was set high and I was able to slip around him,” he said. “I was lucky enough to get my hand on the ball and block it.”
These are the types of games Clemson (1-1, 0-1 ACC) is expected to win if it is to challenge for an ACC title, as many thought the Tigers would.
However, as Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden and every other cliché speaker says, defense wins championships. But Clemson’s defense this afternoon was definitely not of championship caliber.
And Bowden knew that as his defense took to the field with the game on the line in the second overtime.
Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC) had been able to gain massive chunks nearly each time it ran and Bowden had little faith the Tigers would able to stop the Eagles’ offense.
“I wouldn’t say real confident because of third down conversions,” Bowden said. “No, I didn’t have a lot of confidence.”
When the Eagles weren’t running through Clemson’s defense, quarterback Matt Ryan was able to pick apart the secondary, which seemed confused at times.
It was so bad at one point, that cornerback C.J. Gaddis was benched after he was in the wrong spot that resulted in a first down for Boston College. Even true freshman linebacker Jeremy Campbell yelled at Gaddis and pointed out to him that he was in the wrong place.
“We had a lot of breakdowns in the secondary,” Coleman said. “We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and do some things different and maybe make some personnel changes.”
Another aspect where Clemson struggled tackling came on kickoffs. Jeff Smith was one yard shy of setting an Eagles record with 213 return yards, which included a 96-yarder for a touchdown to start the second half.
Coleman said he expects personnel changes on the kickoff team.
“We had three kicks got to the 50 or better,” he said. “That’s just unacceptable on our kickoff team.”
It’s the most kickoff yards ever allowed by a Clemson team.
“If you look at the statistics, we out rushed them; we out threw them; we had time of possession and turnovers were equal,” Bowden said. “It shows you the significance of the kicking game.”
Oddly enough, it appeared as though the game was in the hands of the Tigers after it was ruled that safety Michael Hamlin had intercepted a Ryan pass at their own 14. He and receiver Kevin Challenger each came down with the ball, but Hamlin ripped it away when the two were on the ground and Clemson was given the ball.
But after review, it was determined that both players had possession, which gives it to the offense.
“When it was first called an interception, we just knew it was game over,” Coleman said. “We’ve got three great backs and I knew we were probably just going to pound the ball and run the clock out.”
The Eagles scored the game tying touchdown four plays later.
In the first overtime, it looked as though the Tigers were going to win as they had it first-and-goal at the 3.
But C.J. Spiller’s run to the right was clogged and he was forced out of bounds at the 7. One second down, quarterback Will Proctor was sacked back at the 14. Third down then resulted in a gain of only three yards, which forced Dean to boot the tying field goal to send it into double-overtime.
“When you get down there on the three, you think you’re going to come out of that with a touchdown,” Proctor said.
Now, after one conference game, Clemson is going to have to dig itself out of a hole. And that’s not going to be easy with a game at Florida State next week.
“This is behind us now,” Proctor said. “We’ve got to go and correct mistakes in the film room tomorrow and Monday and start preparing for Florida State. Obviously, it puts us behind the eight ball in conference play, but we’ve been in this situation before.”