More of the same

One week after finally winning a close game (a 14-13 decision against North Carolina State), Clemson reverted Saturday night to what has become its pattern this season -- losing a game it should have won.

The Tigers outgained Florida State by 90 yards, had 25 first downs to the Seminoles' 16 and held a seven-minute advantage in time of possession.

Yet, Florida State won 16-13 on a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

Frustration was evident following the Tigers' fourth loss by a touchdown or less this season.

"The story of the game is having a lot of yards and not enough to show for it," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "We did a lot of good things, but once again we had too many missed opportunities. We had some tremendous individual efforts on both sides of the ball, but we had some critical miscues at critical times that cost us."

Clemson, which has lost five games by a total of 26 points, slipped to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers are out of the running for the Atlantic Division title and a second consecutive berth in the ACC championship game, but Clemson still has a chance to improve its bowl stock with games remaining at Wake Forest and at home against arch-rival South Carolina.

"We've got to move on and try to get bowl-eligible next week," Swinney said. "We're not happy with our record, but we're not quitting. There are still some goals out there for us. We also still have a state championship out there."

The fourth quarter doomed Clemson on Saturday night. All but 10 of Florida State's 97 rushing yards (89.6 percent) came in the final quarter, as did 10 of the Seminoles' 16 first downs. After averaging just 0.75 yards per rush through three quarters, the Seminoles averaged 5.8 yards per carry in the fourth.

MONDAY NOTES: Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and also intercepted a pass against Florida State. It was Bowers' eighth consecutive game with a sack, tying the school record held by the late Gaines Adams. Bowers now has 13.5 sacks -- the second-highest season total in school history -- and 22 tackles for loss; he leads the nation in both categories.

* Saturday's loss marked the first time Clemson had lost a game despite having a 100-yard rusher (Jamie Harper) and a 100-yard receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) since a loss to North Carolina on Nov. 9, 1985. Clemson had won 20 consecutive games in which it had that offensive combination.

* Six years ago to the day -- Nov. 13, 2004 -- Clemson lost at Duke by the same 16-13 score as Saturday night, as the Blue Devils' Matt Brooks kicked a 53-yard field goal on the final play of the game. Saturday, Florida State's Dustin Hopkins kicked a 55-yarder on the game's final play to beat the Tigers.

GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Jamie Harper -- In his second start since replacing injured starter Andre Ellington, Harper showed his game-changing potential against Florida State, producing 197 all-purpose yards and almost single-handedly willing the Tigers to victory. Harper had a career-high 143 yards rushing, including the Tigers' lone touchdown on a 26-yard run. He also had nine catches -- a single-game school record for a running back -- for 54 yards.

"He played with tremendous heart and toughness," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He was outstanding. He finished with some tough, physical runs. He was a factor all night and gave us everything he's got. I'm really proud of him."


In his second start since replacing injured starter Andre Ellington, Harper showed his game-changing potential against Florida State, producing 197 all-purpose yards and almost single-handedly willing the Tigers to victory. (Roy Philpott)
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR DeAndre Hopkins -- One week after grabbing five passes for a career-high 80 yards, Hopkins improved his performance with an eight-catch, 106-yard day against Florida State. Hopkins has 31 receptions on the year, which is a Clemson record for a first-year player, and his eight catches against the Seminoles were one off the single-game freshman record set by Hopkins' uncle, Terry Smith, against Maryland in 1990.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The film was just was as excruciating to watch as it was to live through it." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after watching film of his team's 16-13 loss at Florida State on the last play of the game.

LOOKING GOOD: Clemson's defense continues to be impressive, spearheaded by a dominant defensive front and an improving linebacker corps. The defense has surrendered just one touchdown each of the past five games, so it's hard to find fault here for the Tigers' close losses.

"I'm really proud of the effort those guys are giving over there," coach Dabo Swinney said. Clemson's defense was superb against Florida State, especially early in the game. The Seminoles had just 10 yards rushing and six first downs entering the final quarter. And the Tigers' defense allowed just 16 points -- less than half the Seminoles' average.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Finishing drives. Clemson wound up in Florida State territory on eight of its 10 possessions -- seven of which comprised at least eight plays or more -- and came away pointless five times. The Tigers were thwarted by two missed field goals and two interceptions.

"It's awfully disappointing to move the ball the way we did up and down the field and not get the win," Swinney said. "But we only had one three-and-out the whole night. You put a 15-play drive together and come away with nothing, that's very deflating. You get back down there and somebody loses focus a little and tries to make something happen. We have to push through that and get beyond it."

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