Sept. 8, 2007
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Cullen Harper threw a school-record five touchdown passes and No. 25 Clemson capped a frenzied week with a 49-26 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
The Tigers started 2-0 for the second time in three seasons, following up Monday night’s 24-18 win over Florida State with the wipeout of the Warhawks (0-2).
First-year starter Harper led the way in both games.
The redshirt junior had two TD passes to beat the Seminoles, then had a record-breaking day against ULM.
Harper finished 20-of-26 passing for 270 yards and no interceptions.
Clemson’s players and coaches had spent all offseason focused on Florida State. So it was no surprise early on when the Tigers showed little of the energy and enthusiasm they had five days earlier.
C.J. Spiller was stopped on a fourth-and-2 on the Tigers’ second possession. The Warhawks answered back with a 67-yard drive that ended on Calvin Dawson’s 1-yard TD run for a 7-0 lead.
That’s when Harper took control.
He tied the school’s single-game mark, set by Bobby Gage in 1947 and matched by four other players, in the first half to give Clemson a 28-10 advantage.
It took Harper one attempt to grab the mark for himself. He lofted a perfect pass to Spiller along the left sideline that the sophomore took in for a 68-yard touchdown catch.
Harper got the Tigers going with two touchdown throws in a 2-minute span of the first quarter.
He found Tyler Grisham with a 14-yarder to tie the game, then connected with Jacoby Ford on a 52-yarder that put the Tigers ahead to stay.
Harper also hit freshman tight end Brian Linthicum for an 8-yard touchdown pass. He tied the school record with a 6-yard throw to Aaron Kelly right before halftime.
It was an impressive performance from a player some Clemson fans thought was only keeping the position warm until highly regarded freshman Willy Korn was ready.
Korn, one of the country’s top prospects, enrolled in January and went through spring practice, rising to No. 2 on the depth chart.
But the freshman couldn’t overtake Harper, who’s shown why with his first two performances.
Korn entered the game late in the third quarter to a standing ovation — what’s a starter got to do to keep fans happy? Korn’s first play was an 11-yard completion to Nelson Faerber that also brought big cheers.
Harper’s performance took the spotlight away from Clemson’s “Thunder and Lightning” backfield of James Davis and Spiller.
Davis led the way with 68 yards and a 16-yard touchdown run. Spiller had four receptions for 87 yards.
The Warhawks had their moments. Dawson rushed for 121 yards, his seventh straight 100-yard game. Backup Frank Goodin went over the century mark with 102 yards rushing.
Cole Wilson had field goals of 41 and 23 yards to set a school record of 14 straight kicks made.
In the end, Clemson’s size, speed and depth were too much for the Warhawks to handle. The road doesn’t get easier, either, with Louisiana-Monroe heading to No. 23 Texas A&M next Saturday.
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