Sept 8, 2001
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By PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Clemson’s J.J. McKelvey finally brought his game from the practice field to the scoreboard.
McKelvey, a little-used junior who replaced injured starter Roscoe Crosby, caught two 7-yard touchdown passes as No. 20 Clemson beat Wofford 38-14 on Saturday.
It was the Tigers’ 36th straight victory over a Southern Conference opponent. And it might not have happened without McKelvey.
“I always knew what he could do,” quarterback Woody Dantzler said. “He’s shown flashes in practice. He hit a low point in camp, but a couple of days later, he came right back and became the player we knew he could be.”
McKelvey was a backup on the depth chart. But he became the featured receiver when Crosby, who has a $1.75 million contract from the Kansas City Royals, sprained his knee on the Tigers’ first series.
McKelvey, a junior, made his chance pay off. He had six catches in the first half, double his amount for 2000, and finished with eight receptions for 73 yards.
“If I get the chance, I could do this all the time,” McKelvey said, smiling. “But I’m second team and I just want to play my role.”
Against Division I-AA Wofford, McKelvey’s role was huge.
His 7-yard touchdown catch tied it at 7. He added another 7-yard TD reception in the third quarter to put the Tigers (2-0) up 31-14.
Dantzler, the Heisman Trophy contender, came out after that score. He finished 21-of-30 for 207 yards.
Wofford saved Clemson this spring, filling in with a game when Tulane backed out of its Oct. 6 contest at Death Valley.
It looked like a huge mistake, though, when the Terriers continually moved the ball. With Clemson up 24-14 in the third quarter and Wofford on the march after a 20-yard run by J.R. McNair, Tigers fans booed.
“I’m official now,” said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, 17-9 in three seasons. “I might have booed me too.”
Jesse McCoy ended their first drive with a 26-yard touchdown run.
After McKelvey’s score tied the game, Wofford’s Brandon Ladd picked off Dantzler for the first time this season.
Terriers quarterback Travis Wilson found Isaac Goodpasture at the back of the end zone five plays later for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 14-7 lead.
“I think they looked over us at the start of the game,” Wofford receiver Isaac Goodpasture said. “In the second half, they came out with a new attitude for us, a new respect.”
A Wofford gamble in the second quarter that did not work changed the game for good.
Terriers coach Mike Ayers, facing fourth-and-2 on his 35 yard line, decided to go for it. After all, Wofford was 15 of 27 on fourth-down conversions in 2000.
But Wilson’s pitch to Shaun Fogle missed and Clemson’s Eric Meekins grabbed the ball and ran it 29 yards for the go-ahead score.
“I think in 14 years we must have made that decision 125 times,” Ayers said. “Usually it works out for us.”
Clemson defensive tackle Nick Eason recovered a fumble by Wilson on the next series. Travis Zachery capped the 36-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown and the Tigers led 24-14 at the half.
Clemson tightened up after the break. Wofford managed only 87 yards rushing and 108 yards total in the second half.
Clemson’s Crosby, a second-round draft choice by the Royals this spring, went to the locker room in the second quarter. He came out for the second half on crutches and in street clothes.
Clemson spokesman Tim Bourret said Crosby will be re-evaluated Sunday.
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