_jgl1451Two false starts pinned the Cardinals into first and twenty, and the 82000 raucous Tigers helped force a three and out. This was setting a theme for the early game as each team struggled to start their offenses. Clemson gained 53 yards on the ground, but with only one passing yard to compliment it. The Cardinals were stymied until the last drive of the first quarter where they marched down the field in 11 plays and 82 yards for six points, scoring with 14:18 left in the first half.

 

Clemson then struggled until Watson hit Leggett on a 24 yard pass on third down, and then a personal foul by Louisville pushed the Tigers to the Cardinal 25. Williams continued the momentum by catching a fifteen-yard screen pass, but then the Tigers stalled. Watson threw the ball behind Williams in the end zone into the hands of Louisville’s Jaire Alexander for his first pick of the game; but he was 3-3 for 43 yards before he threw the pick.

 

The Tigers defense and crowd responded as they forced a sack and an incomplete pass, but a phantom defensive holding call on a third and seventeen scramble bailed the Cardinals out for a first down. The Cardinals cut through the Tigers until an errant snap was bobbled by the Cardinals and recovered by linebacker Ben Boulware.

 

Clemson then only needed two plays to respond in 20 seconds and 45 yards as Watson threw a 33-yard fade pass for a touchdown to talented wide out Deon Cain. Louisville ran two plays for a loss of five yards to lead to third down.

 

In the start of a crazy sequence, Jadar Johnson picked off a Jackson throw deep for Johnson’s third pick of the year. There was pass interference by the other defender that the referees did not call. Deshaun then fumbled the ball to give the ball right back to the Cardinals, although it was a close call. Louisville then botched another handoff that Clemson snatched to cause the third consecutive turnover in three plays.

 

Clemson was assisted by a fair pass interference call, and then Wayne Gallman rushed for a 24-yard touchdown to give the Tigers their first lead of the night at 14-7 with 6:09 in the second quarter.

 

The Cardinals were looking sharp until on third and two, Lamar Jackson’s deep pass fell incomplete. It should have been pass interference for a first down, but receiver JJ Staples was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct which forced the Cardinals 15 yards back and to punt.

 

A three play, 56 yard, minute long, drive was capped off by another 37-yard fade touchdown to Deon Cain. This time he was several steps ahead of the defensive back, giving the Tigers a 21-7 lead with 3:47 in the half.

 

On the ensuing kickoff, Dorian O’Daniel blew up Jaire Alexander at the 15-yard line. Louisville marched 63 yards in nine plays and then two personal fouls were called in three plays, one each on Louisville and Clemson. The Cardinals then made it to the ten-yard line before having to settle for a 26-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 with 37 seconds left in the half.

Clemson leaped down the field with a 23 yard pass to Scott, a pass interference penalty on Josh Harvey-Clemons, and an 18 yard catch by Mike Williams to take Clemson from their 27 to the Louisville 17 in 17 seconds. Watson then escaped pressure to throw a 12-yard strike to Williams on the sideline to put them on the five-yard line with 9 seconds. Artavis Scott then caught a five-yard hitch route touchdown to make the score 28-10 Clemson with five seconds left in the half. To make things worse for the Cardinals, Clelin Ferrell sacked Lamar Jackson to end the half.

 

Halftime Score: Clemson 28 Louisville 10