|Clemson never led while time was on the clock, but the ACC Tigers are Chick fil-A Bowl champions. (US Presswire)|
Clemson (11-2) officially led LSU (10-3) for no time in the 2012 Chick fil-A Bowl. But with the clock reading double-zero, Chandler Catanzaro's 32-yard field goal gave No. 14 Clemson a 25-24 victory over No. 9 LSU on Monday night in Atlanta.
Clemson scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after LSU seized control of a one-point game with 10 points in the third. Catanzaro kicked two field goals, helping to make up for a blocked PAT in the second quarter. It was Catanzaro's first unsuccessful PAT attempt in 57 attempts this season.
QB Tajh Boyd led the Clemson offensive comeback, setting career highs in completions (36) and attempts (50). After WR Sammy Watkins suffered a right ankle injury on Clemson's second offensive snap of the game, WR DeAndre Hopkins carried the offensive load. He finished with 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson controlled the ball for 11:26 of the fourth quarter, as LSU ran the ball twice. LSU's lead was built on the running of true freshman Jeremy Hill, who scored touchdowns in the first minute of each half and finished with 124 yards on 12 carries.
When the game turned: Clemson faced fourth-and-16 from its 14-yard line with 1:22 remaining in the game and trailing 24-22. Boyd faced down an oncoming LSU pass rusher and completed a 26-yard pass to a sliding Hopkins. Clemson didn't face another third or fourth down until Catanzaro's game-winning kick.
Highlight moments: Trailing by eight on its second-to-last possession of the game, Clemson ran a hook-and-lateral from its 46-yard line. Boyd threw to WR Adam Humphries, who lateraled to RB Andre Ellington, who weaved through the LSU defense for a 21-yard gain. … On the first snap of the second half, Hill broke a tackle attempt by Clemson S Rashard Hall and ran 57 yards for a touchdown. … Clinging to a two-point lead with 2:47 remaining, LSU ran three pass plays. The last two were incomplete, stopping the clock. LSU was able to run just one minute off the clock and didn't force Clemson to use any of its three time outs.
Significance of Clemson's victory: The Tigers wiped out the memory of last season's 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. The win gave Clemson a 2-1 record against the SEC this season. The Tigers were the only ACC team to defeat an SEC foe this year. Boyd made a case for 2013 Heisman consideration, should he stay for another season.
Significance of LSU's loss: Les Miles solidified his reputation as a wild card with his play calling late in the game. The Tigers lost in the Peach/Chick-fil-A Bowl for the first time in six appearances and likely cost themselves a top-10 finish in the polls.
|WR Sammy Watkins left with an ankle injury on the second play of the game. (US Presswire)|
- LSU RB Hill -- 12 rushes for 124 yards, 2 TDs
- LSU LB Kevin Minter -- 19 tackles, 7 solo, 1.5 TFLs, sack. Named Outstanding Defensive Player.
- LSU DE Barkevious Mingo -- 5 tackles, 3 TFL, sack, forced fumble
- LSU KR Michael Ford -- 2 returns for 91 yards. His 43-yard return to open the second half set up Hill's touchdown run.
- Clemson QB Boyd -- 36 of 50 for 346 yards, 2 TDs. 29 carries for 22 yards, TD. Named Outstanding Offensive Player.
- Clemson WR Hopkins -- 13 catches for 191 yards, 2 TDs
- Clemson RB Ellington -- 11 carries for 50 yards; 1 catch for 35 yards
- Clemson DE Malliciah Goodman -- 3 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 sacks, pass breakup
What they said about LSU passing three times with 2:47 remaining:
- LSU coach Miles -- “We got eight yards on the first one. Get a first down, we run the clock out, and the game's over. … We had to throw the football.”
- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney -- “I was very fortunate after the 2-point (conversion) miss that I didn't have to use any of my time outs. That was huge. A couple incompletions there, and that was big. We get the ball back with 1:49 or so and get a field goal to win it. We work on that. We do that in our sleep. We don't always do it on fourth-and-16 though. … He runs it three times and I'm calling time out and that's 15 seconds. I think he was trying to win the game.”
- LSU coach Miles -- “Tajh Boyd played a heck of a game. He got drilled a few times but just kept coming.”
- LSU DE Sam Montgomery -- “It's a hard thing on the defense to play 100 plays. … When I laid down out there, I was so tired and so hurt, but when I got back up, I don't think I've ever gone so hard in my life.”
Numbers you should know: LSU scored touchdowns in the first minute of each half. … LSU gained 112 yards in the third quarter after getting just 106 in the first half. Clemson was held to 28 yards in the third quarter. … Hopkins set a Clemson record for receiving yardage with 1,319, breaking Sammy Hopkins' record from last year. He also had a touchdown catch for the 10th-straight game, breaking Herman Moore's 22-year-old ACC record. It was his 17th touchdown catch of the year, tying an ACC mark set by Clarkson Hines of Duke in 1989. … Boyd set the ACC record for touchdown passes (36), breaking Phillip Rivers' nine-year-old mark.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.