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Tigers Roll to Victory Thanks to Big Second Half

Sept. 3, 2011

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CLEMSON, SC – He may have just started his third full season as Clemson’s head football coach, but Dabo Swinney knows how precious each victory can be. That’s why Saturday’s 43-19 win over Troy was an “A” in his mind, despite his offense’s first-half struggles, which led to a three-point lead deficit at halftime.

“We won! That’s all that matters,” Swinney said. “The rest of it, that’s our job to coach and evaluate. I have never graded a win anything less than an `A.’ They are too hard to get. It has been a long off-season so I’m just glad to have a `W.'”

The Tigers (1-0) got the win after outscoring Troy 30-3 in the second half. Trailing 16-13 at the break, Clemson came out and scored on three straight possessions to grab a 33-19 lead. From there, the Tigers cruised as they amassed 347 yards of their 468 total yards in the second half.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd, who struggled in the first 30 minutes, bounced back by throwing for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 14 of 18 passes. At one point, he completed 13 straight passes. His touchdowns went to tight end Dwayne Allen for 54 yards and wide receiver Jaron Brown for seven. Clemson also got a 75-yard touchdown run from freshman Mike Bellamy and a one-yard plunge from D.J. Howard in the fourth quarter.

“I kind of thought there would be some jitters,” Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris said. “We played a lot of young guys and there was some inconsistency with them, with Tajh and with all of them.

“They didn’t let up at all, though. It was just a fact they had not been together, it was their first game, new offensive coordinator and the whole bit. We could not get in a rhythm in the first half. I could not get in rhythm as a play caller and they couldn’t get in rhythm as players… I told the guys in the locker room back there, `that we are all right. This thing is going to take off. We are going to hit a couple of big plays and we are going to get going.’ That was encouraging.”

That big play came on third down with a little more than seven minutes to play. On third down-and-seven from his own 46, Boyd spotted Allen all alone down the right sideline. After making the over-the-shoulder catch near the Troy 30, Allen broke two-would-be tackles on his way to the end zone.

Dwayne Allen, I thought, was the spark,” Swinney said. “That was a huge, huge, catch and run. Last year, he would have been tackled on that play. But to see him finish like he did (today) proves that he has worked on his game.”

Allen’s touchdown gave the Tigers a 20-16 lead at the time. Now settled in, Boyd extended the lead to 26-16 with 0:30 left in the third quarter by converting another third down pass for a touchdown, this time to Brown from seven yards.

After giving up a field goal early in the fourth quarter, Bellamy put his name in the record books with a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry of his career. That was the long run on the first carry by any player in Clemson history.

Chandler Catanzaro followed with a record third field goal of plus-45 yards and Howard added his one-yard run to close out the scoring. Catanzaro became just the second player in Clemson history to boot three field goals of at least 45 yards in the same game.

Additionally, freshman Sammy Watkins set a record for receptions (7) and reception yards (81) by a rookie in his first game. He scored just 26 seconds into the game, the earliest score first year player in school history.

“It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was a great win,” Swinney said. “I’m really proud of the guys for handling some adversity. That was a big ol’ elephant on everybody’s back during halftime. We were down three points, but I’m really proud of those guys.

“There was no panic. The staff did a good job. We just needed to settle down.”

By Will Vandervort, IPTAY Media