The Clemson Tigers have continued their home winning streak, adding another tally to the Death Valley victory column with 31 consecutive wins in Memorial Stadium It was a nail-biter until the very end as both teams held the other to just one touchdown a piece.
What went right in such an anxiety-producing game and what went wrong?
Paws up: Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah
Sophomore running back Kobe Pace and true freshman running back Phil Mafah proved themselves to be an elite duo against the Boston College Eagles.
Pace had an explosive game, setting the stadium a light early in the first quarter with his 59-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with 125 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
Mafah, who had been redshirting before Will Shipley’s injury, added an additional 58 rushing yards on 8.3 yards per carry. Thanks to his impressive 225-pound frame, Mafah was able to get many yards after contact and proved his ability to power through the Eagles defense. He has the potential to step up as an all-purpose rusher for the Tigers.
Even with the loss of star RB Shipley, Pace and Mafah stepped up to challenge and proved their ability to find holes in the Eagles defense.
Paws down: Injuries
It is no small secret that a big portion of the Tigers’ roster suffered injuries during Saturday night’s game. Defensive tackles Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis were already out coming into Saturday night and the injury bug continued.
Offensive guard Will Putnam sat out after playing through the NC State game with a toe injury while wide receiver Justyn Ross and tight end Braden Galloway both exited the game early due to head injuries.
“We’re a growing group and I thought they grew a ton tonight,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “Our depth is really being challenged”.
Paws down: Giving up first rushing touchdown of the season
Prior to the Boston College game, the Tigers were the only team in the ACC whose defense had not given up a single rushing touchdown this season.
But less than a minute into the third quarter, Eagles’ RB Pat Garwo III scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at 13-13. The defensive line slipped up and allowed Garwo III through — a mistake which was a part of what Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables said to be the “easiest touchdown drive of the season by far.”
In fairness, the Tigers stepped onto the field missing Bresee and Davis. Xavier Thomas stepped up to fill their absences with three solo tackles and one sack.
“I thought Xavier Thomas was the best player on the field tonight,” said Swinney.
Paws up: B.T. Potter
Considering Tigers kicker B.T. Potter had only two field goal attempts in the first four games of the season, the fact that he went four-for-four against the Eagles was impressive.
Potter was the Tigers’ leading scorer, responsible for 13 of out of the 19 points scored thanks to four field goals and an extra point off of Pace’s touchdown. Swinney called this game a “great confidence boost for [Potter].”
Although the Eagles’ defense managed to hold the Tigers’ offense steady, Potter proved he was ready to place the weight of the team on his shoulders with two kicks over 40 yards and an unblemished 100% field goal percentage.
Paws up honorable mention: The crowd
Although they may not have been able to gather at the Paw after the game, the fans’ energy was electric. In fact, Swinney named the crowd as “the difference in the game tonight” thanks to their unmatched passion and rowdiness.