Sept 21, 2002
By PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – J.J. McKelvey had a career-high 10 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Clemson’s defense asserted itself in a 30-7 victory over Ball State on Saturday.
McKelvey was the team’s first player with a 100-yard receiving game this season. But more importantly for the Tigers (3-1) may have been the revival of its defense, which gave up nearly 400 yards a game in 2001.
Ball State went 77 yards on its opening drive, which ended with its only touchdown. The Cardinals (1-2) were held to 143 yards the rest of the way.
Marcus Merriweather, who gained 100 yards in six of his past seven games for Ball State, had 96 yards on 24 carries.
Clemson also forced two fumbles and two interceptions, including a juggling, one-handed grab by cornerback Justin Miller to shut down the Cardinals.
Ball State hoped to keep up the Mid-American Conference’s run of good luck against the Atlantic Coast Conference, following wins earlier this season by Miami of Ohio over North Carolina and Northern Illinois over Wake Forest.
But the Cardinals’ could not break through Clemson’s defenders.
While the defense thrived, Clemson’s offense did just enough to win.
Down 7-0 in the second quarter, quarterback Willie Simmons hit McKelvey with a 51-yard pass – Clemson’s longest throw this season – to the 1. Yusef Kelly followed with an easy run to the end zone.
Aaron Hunt’s 24-yard field goal on their next drive put the Tigers up for good.
A fumble by Ball State quarterback Talmadge Hill was recovered by Clemson’s Altroy Bodrick. Three plays later, Derrick Hamilton scored on a 9-yard reverse.
Simmons ended 17-of-25 for 188 yards, but the Tigers’ offense appeared uninterested at times.
Kelly fumbled away one ball when he smacked into umpire Rosario Amato. Hamilton, one of the team’s surest hands, dropped an open ball for what would have been a first down. And Simmons, on 4th-and-1 at Ball State’s 6, bounced a throw to tight end Bobby Williamson when the quarterback way was clear to run into the end zone.
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