The Little Things Cost Bull Dogs against Clemson | Chris Schisler
Like a bolt of lightning blazing through the sky the game took off at fast and intense in Clemson. It was obvious that this would be a barn burner. After both teams punted on their first drive, the scoring frenzy began. It was a battle against two of the most talented teams in all of college football. The old adage says that speed kills. There must be a lot of people dead tonight because we saw speed all over the field.
The first quarter felt like felt more like a game of air hockey than a football game because of how quickly the two offenses went back and forth. Clemson’s offense got rolling first with a Tahj Boyd touchdown run. Georgia responded with a 75 yard touchdown run by runningback Todd Gurly. Clemson answered back just seconds later with a 77 yard touchdown pass where Sammy Watkins broke a tackle and sprinted easily into the end zone. Georgia marched down the field to score again. On 3rd down in field goal range Georgia ran the ball and set up a manageable situation to go for it on fourth down. Murray’s ability to keep drives alive with clutch throws was crucial for the Bulldogs.
The second quarter began with Georgia inside their 5 yard line. The field position did not matter Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs were on a mission. Aaron Murray was in command and Georgia’s ability to convert third downs helped them take a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.
One of the most critical moments in the game was a defensive stop for Clemson with a little under 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Georgia had seemed to find an unstoppable stride as they had scored on their previous three drives. Even though Clemson punted on their next possession getting a stop on third down, especially the way they did it, sacking Murray was huge for the Tigers. They had found some answers and the defense had two great stops in a row. On the next Georgia drive they forced a fumble that led to a Clemson touchdown.
After seeing three straight scoring drives, Georgia punted twice and gave away the ball twice. The Clemson defense was able to create pressure in the backfield. What started off as a brilliant performance by Aaron Murray unraveled a bit after throwing an interception. It was a beautiful defensive play. The Tigers blitzed the middle linebacker and the defensive end dropped into a fire zone and picked off Murray in the middle of the field. A crazy first half that had 6 total touchdowns between the two teams ended with a 21-21 tie.
Clemson got the scoring started in the second half. On a fourth down conversion the Clemson receiver should have been tackled for a loss, managed to get the first down. On the next play Clemson’s Tahj Boyd had a beautiful 31 yard touchdown pass to Zach Brooks. In football it is the little things that cost you. Bad arm tackling cost Georgia a touchdown. All the defender had to do was use his shoulder and wrap up to drive through the ball carrier. That’s all he needed to do. The drive could have ended; momentum could have been the Bulldogs once again… if only the defense could tackle. Instead it gave Clemson the lead.
The next drive was a defining moment for the Georgia Bulldogs. On a fourth and short they successfully faked a punt and would end up tying the game with a touchdown. Murray finally found the rhythm that was once beating strong earlier in the game. Georgia’s playcalling was focused on beating the unrelenting pass rush of Clemson. Murray got the ball out of his hands quickly. Todd Gurley finished off the drive with a 12 yard touchdown run. The game was tied 28-28.
To no one’s surprise Clemson marched down the field with relative ease. They only scored a field goal. On third & goal Tahj Boyd threw the ball a bit too high and they had to settle for three points. It was another example of the little things costing points. On the subsequent drive Georgia received help from their opponent. The defense threw arms and took bad pursuit angles but when they got called for a horse collar they put Georgia in prime position for a score. Luckily for the Tigers Georgia could not get it in the end zone. Even luckier a bad snap and hold exchange on a field goal attempt gave the ball back to Clemson with their three point lead intact. I’ve said it before, I will say it again: it’s the little things that win and lose football games. Between a Clemson touchdown and a missed field goal, little things cost Georgia 10 points.
Georgia’s defense struggled mightily all night long. It got to a point where Clemson was playing against air. The Bull dogs were suddenly down by 10 after Boyd’s third touchdown pass. The score was 38-28. Down 10 with no hope of stopping the Clemson Tigers the Bulldogs were in trouble. They started their next drive with three straight runs. It may have been a good idea- they could not protect their quarterback and they were getting big chunks on the ground with Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. A holding penalty though had the Georgia moving backwards. After two incomplete passes the dogs had to punt on 4th and 15.
Hope was all but lost for the Bulldogs. With time ticking down and 1 time out left they were down 10 facing a critical 3rd and 4 with 4:49 left in the game. The game was essentially out of reach for Georgia after Boyd ran for the first down. They managed to get Clemson to punt the football with about 2 and a half minutes remaining. Georgia needed quick score and a miracle. They scored in five plays and the game was down to a desperate onside kick.
The Bulldogs played a good game but they lost because of the little things. On 4th and 1 Georgia’s defense was there but could not make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The next play Clemson scored a touchdown. They did not score a field goal, because of a mental error on the snap and hold. They made little mistakes you just cannot make against a team as talented as the Clemson Tigers.