Dec 31, 2001
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By TIM KORTEAP Sports Writer
BOISE, Idaho – After Clemson’s up-and-down season, dazzling Woodrow Dantzler is happy with any bowl victory.
Even in the snow. Even in Boise.
Dantzler tied a school record with four touchdown passes and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden got his first postseason victory as the Tigers beat Louisiana Tech 49-24 in the Humanitarian Bowl on Monday.
“This year was pretty rocky and didn’t go the way we expected, but to come to a bowl game and win is a great blessing,” said Dantzler, who was voted Clemson’s most valuable player. “This is a great catapult for our team next year and a great way for me to go out.”
With snow falling from kickoff into the third quarter, Dantzler completed 15 of 23 passes for 218 yards. He ran 15 times for 57 yards before leaving with the Tigers ahead 42-10 after the third quarter.
Both warm-weather teams struggled in the first half but Clemson (7-5) took over in the third quarter, turning up the intensity on both sides of the ball to score 28 straight points on the Bulldogs (7-5).
“Our team was hitting on all cylinders,” Bowden said. “Our defense got some turnovers and offensively we scored touchdowns on our first four possessions of the second half.”
This fall, Dantzler became the first Division I-A player to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season.
He went out with a bang in his final performance, throwing two scoring passes in the first six minutes of the third quarter as the Tigers (7-5) extended a 14-10 halftime lead to 42-10.
“We played Clemson football,” Dantzler said. “I don’t know what it was in the first half, but we weren’t playing our game. In the locker room, we had to band together and refocus.”
Dantzler found tight end Ben Hall for a 5-yard score. Later, he threw in the flat to Bernard Rambert, who was almost stopped short of a first down near midfield but broke away from a mass of tacklers and sprinted 62 yards for a TD.
Rambert rushed for 101 yards and one TD and caught three passes for 77 yards.
The Bulldogs, champions of the Western Athletic Conference in their first season in the league, tackled poorly in the cold weather and quarterback Luke McCown’s two third-quarter interceptions led to two Clemson TDs.
“In the first half, the conditions were pretty tough,” Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. “But some of the missed tackles were just because of their great players. They were great athletes, no doubt about that.”
Everything went right for the Tigers in the third. It was 42-10 after receiver Airese Currie hid a handoff from Dantzler, stood still while the play flowed deceptively to the right and then raced left for a 19-yard score.
The 32-degree weather was better suited for the Winter Olympics than a college bowl game, with the blue turf at Boise State’s Bronco Stadium looking more like a frozen hockey pond.
It was the Clemson’s first game in the snow since 1936. Louisiana Tech’s last snow game was the 1968 Grantland Rice Bowl in Murfreesboro, Tenn., when Terry Bradshaw directed a victory over Akron.
The Tigers made the best of it. Someone built a snow-statue replica of Howard’s Rock, the good luck charm that Clemson players touch before each home game. They did it in Idaho, too, although the “rock” fell after too much contact.
Bowden is the first Clemson coach to reach bowl games in his first three seasons, but he was 0-2 until this year. The Tigers also snapped a string of five straight bowl losses.
Skeptics said Clemson was wasting its time making the 2,200-mile trip across the country for a lower-tier bowl game, but Bowden said it was worth it.
“This gives us some positive momentum going into winter conditioning, weightlifting and recruiting, for the first time,” Bowden said. “We’ve never won a bowl game, this staff and this team.”
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