Oct. 8, 2011
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CLEMSON, SC – Though the eighth-ranked Clemson Tigers got a 36-14 victory over Boston College Saturday afternoon for the Homecoming crowd, the atmosphere around Death Valley appeared as if the Tigers had lost. That comes with good reason because Clemson did lose its starting quarterback – at least for the rest of the second half anyway.
Tajh Boyd, who has helped charge the Tigers to their first 6-0 start since the 2000 season, went down with a hip injury on Clemson’s first drive of the third quarter. Boyd, who had already thrown for 283 yards, rushed for 37 and was responsible for two touchdowns before being injured, was carried to the locker room where X-rays revealed there was no serious damage. Boyd later went to the hospital for an MRI to confirm the X-ray’s results, and it too came back negative.
Boyd’s status for next Saturday’s game against Maryland in College Park is termed questionable at this point.
“Our plan right now is for him to be ready to go next week, but if he is not, we will have to get the next guy ready,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
That man might be freshman Cole Stoudt, who finished the night 6 of 10 for 37 yards in Boyd’s place.
“He was solid,” Swinney said. “He played very good. The young man was a true freshman and he had not really played since the first game. He comes in, and he is deep in the red zone, then his next play is from his own one-yard line.
“I thought he did a heck of a job.”
Stoudt led the Tigers, who are 3-0 in the ACC also for the first time since 2000, on two more scoring drives after Boston College cut the lead to 26-14 on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Chase Rettig to Bobby Swigert with 5:09 to play in the third quarter.
“At first, I was really shocked because I really didn’t know what happened, but I went out there and did what I have been doing in practice,” Stoudt said.
Stoudt led a 13-play 50-yard drive which ended with a 47-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was Catanzaro’s fifth field goal.
On the scoring drive, Stoudt completed a 9-yard third-down pass to fellow freshman Sammy Watkins and an 8-yard pass to Adam Humphries, another freshman to setup Catanzaro’s field goal.
Stoudt also ran for 7 yards on the drive.
“The coaches told me to relax and have fun,” Stoudt said.
The rest of his team followed his lead after that. The defense shutdown the Eagles (1-5, 0-3) from there, limiting them to 258 total yards, while running back Andre Ellington put the game away with a 35-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one.
Ellington’s score gave Clemson it’s 36-14 lead with 11:24 to play.
“We had faith in Cole,” said Ellington, who rushed for 117 yards on 22 carries. “We were all a little heart broken when Tajh went down, but we all rallied behind Cole. We had his back and we were going to go win the game for him, and we did that.”
Boyd was winning the game before he got hurt. The sophomore had already thrown a three-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown and ran 14 yards for another in staking the Tigers to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.
“He was on his way to a career-day, there is no doubt,” Swinney said.
Instead, it turned out to be an afternoon when all of the 78,000 in Death Valley were concerned for Boyd’s health. Luckily, in the end, everything worked out – Boyd’s health and another Clemson victory.
“There was a lull,” Swinney said. “We definitely had a little bit of staleness there for a little spurt, but they responded. We got after them. We challenged them and it was good to see that they responded.”
By Will Vandervort, IPTAY Media
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