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Clemson Loses Heart-Breaker to Pitt, but Playoff Hopes are Alive and Well

#2 Clemson had its national-long 21-game home win streak snapped on a last-second field goal by Pitt, but with #3 Michigan and #4 Washington also losing, the Tigers are still in great shape to make a return trip to the College Football Playoff.

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BOX SCORE

CLEMSON, S.C. - Chris Blewitt’s 48-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game lifted Pittsburgh to a 43-42 victory over No. 2 Clemson at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Panthers improved to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, while the Tigers dropped their first regular-season game since 2014 and fell to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in ACC play.
The Tigers had a fourth-and-one with just over a minute left that would have sealed the game, but Wayne Gallman was stopped short in Pittsburgh territory. The Panthers drove down the field to set up Blewitt’s game-winning field goal.
Pitt made many great plays, and the Tigers made many mistakes, but the game was also dominated by poor officiating. There was a terrible personal foul call on a 3rd-down tackle by Boulware that led to a Pitt touchdown, and there was another bad 3rd-down defensive holding call on the Tigers that resulted in a Pitt touchdown. In all, the Tigers were hit with 9 penalties for 101 yards, while Pitt only had 3 penalties for 40 yards. The Tigers also had two costly interceptions in the endzone and one more off a deflected pass. If the Tigers had simply kicked easy field goals instead of throwing the two interceptions, they likely win the game.
Aside from the 3 interceptions, Watson had an amazing game. He was 52-70 for 580 passing yards, becoming the sixth player in ACC history with 10,000 career yards of total offense and the first to accomplish that feat as a junior. His passing yards and completions set Clemson single-game records, and the former set an ACC record. Mike Williams added 15 receptions for 202 yards.
The first quarter featured explosive offense from both teams, with Pittsburgh opening the scoring less than two minutes into the game with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman to George Ashton. The score was the first touchdown Clemson had allowed in the first quarter in 2016. Peterman also connected with James Conner for a 46-yard score midway through the quarter. Both of Clemson’s first-quarter touchdowns were one-yard runs by Gallman.
The momentum continued for the Tigers, as Clemson took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Williams. Pittsburgh marched right back down the field to score on a 55-yard pass, but Chris Blewitt’s extra-point attempt was blocked. Watson then fueled a 75-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter, and Clemson took a 28-27 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Pittsburgh hung tight, as Clemson had an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter. With the Tigers ahead 42-34, Watson threw an interception in the endzone, and the Panthers capitalized with a touchdown. The two-point try was no good, as Clemson maintained a two-point lead.
Clemson travels to Winston-Salem, NC next Saturday for its last ACC game of the regular season, a matchup with Wake Forest. A Clemson win would clinch the Tigers' berth in the ACC Championship Game.

CLEMSON HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY QUOTES

“Congratulations to Pittsburgh. I had no doubt that this was going to be a tough game. Watching this tape all week long, this is a team with some close losses and I knew they would fight us hard, so a lot of credit goes to them for making the plays they needed to win.

“We had a chance to put the game away and they stopped us. We had been making those kinds of plays this year, so give them credit. They capitalized on some mistakes, but there were a lot of missed opportunities out there tonight. I love our guys and I hurt for them, but now we have to get back to work.

“You learn from this game, we grow and move on. It’s all about Wake Forest now and finding a way to win up there. We’re still in control of our destiny, and we’ll learn from this loss. We still have a chance to clinch our division, and we can’t let this game beat us twice.

“This team has the heart of a champion, and that will be revealed. I believe that adversity builds character and reveals it. I know what this team is made of, and we’ll fight back, respond and move on to the next one. For us, we’re going to use it to grow, build and get back on track with our season. There is a lot of ball left out there, and we’re going to get back out there next week with a great mindset.”

 

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PITTSBURGH HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI QUOTES

 

Opening Statement:

“I couldn’t be happier for our football team. We’ve had some tight games. We went into the week saying we were going to shock the world, especially with the upsets that happened this week. We just believed. They fight back through adversity. I told them there were going to be ups and downs. Our offense moved the ball up and down the field all day long, which allowed us to score a lot of points. Our defense had three interceptions and big stops. Those stops will go down in history especially when you knock off the No. 2 team in the country and do it in that fashion. The field goal, the drive down there, it’s just an unbelievable thing and I couldn’t be happier for our kids. They’re the ones who made the plays. As coaches, we didn’t make a single play out there today. They made the plays, they hung in there and I love those guys. It was an unbelievable ballgame.”

 

On Pittsburgh’s final drive:

“We made some big plays. I knew we had to get into field-goal range. We were at the 35 yard line and then got down to the 30, and that was a big deal. With a minute to go, I don’t think there was one person on that sideline who thought we weren’t going to win that game. It was total belief, because that was what we talked about all week. The only thing we talked about that didn’t happen was ending in that victory formation. But I don’t think we could have done any better than that.”

 

On Pittsburgh’s defense in the second half:

“We just settled down. That Williams guy is a football player. You talk about going up and getting the ball. Our guys made some plays. We played off of them a little bit. Brightwell’s interception was huge. I didn’t know the guy was that fast. Our defense played much better in the second half. There are some good offenses in the ACC. The conference is unbelievable. Our guys hung in there.”

 

On Blewitt’s game-winning field goal:

“He’s been a ‘money’ kicker. I knelt down with the guys, said a prayer and I had no doubt it was going to go through. It was destiny.”

 

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CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES - OFFENSE

 

WAYNE GALLMAN, RB

On the mindset of the team going forward:

“We have to move on and let the anger go and come to practice on Monday.”

 

On what Pittsburgh did up front that was able to stifle the running game:

“They just played great football, they just beat us to the point. I have to credit Pittsburgh, they played a great game.”

 

On what he saw on the fourth-and-one sweep call:

“I didn’t have anywhere to go. I tried and pushed but they got through.”

 

On if a running rhythm is hard to get into when you are throwing that much:

“Not really, it is just how the line is feeling, how they are blocking and what holes I can get through.”

 

 

HUNTER RENFROW, WR

On how he felt during the game:

“I wish I could have made a few more plays, but I felt good and let’s get ready for next week.”

 

On the interceptions:

“Deshaun (Watson) played a great game, but it is a team game and we have to finish. Offensively, we had a chance to win it, and defensively, we had a chance to win it, and that is the great thing about football...it is a team game.”

 

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CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES - DEFENSE

 

KENDALL JOSEPH, LB

On what it was that made Pittsburgh’s offense so tough to stop:

“It was very complex, a lot of motions in this game. There was a lot of movement. They were hiding guys then sneaking them out of the backfield. We had a good week in practice, but they brought some stuff that we haven’t seen.”

 

On coming up a little short in this game:

“Everybody was devastated. We haven’t lost a lot, so that was weird for us, but we have great leadership on this team. We will bounce back and come ready to play next week.”

 

On making adjustments throughout the game:

“We never stop making adjustments, so for us, we were just trying to find answers for what they were doing. Some stuff were things that we didn’t prepare for.”

 

CLELIN FERRELL, DE

On what happened at the end of the game when Pittsburgh was moving the ball:

“We have to wrap up better. Hats off to Pittsburgh...they played good, but we made a bunch of mistakes tonight, and they capitalized on them. They made fewer mistakes than us, and that made a big difference.”

 

On if this serves as a wakeup call for the team:

“Of course...everything that we want to do is still in front of us, but it still is a wakeup call. We haven’t felt like this in a long time, especially in Death Valley. We just have to continue to respect the game and play better.”

 

On seeing things that the team might not have seen while preparing during the week:

“We knew there were going to be a bunch of motions, shifting and formations. They made some competitive plays, but we didn’t capitalize on the 50/50 balls, and we had way too many penalties.”

 

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CLEMSON GAME NOTES

Clemson Team

• Clemson saw its streak of 15 consecutive wins over ACC teams come to an end.

• Clemson’s loss was its first in the past 25 regular-season games.

• Clemson saw its 22-game home winning streak, longest in the nation, come to an end.

• Clemson saw its streak of 45 wins in a row over unranked opponents (either poll) come to an end.

• Clemson finished with over 500 yards of total offense for the sixth time this season, but lost for just the second time program history (90-2-1) when gaining at least 500 yards.

• Carlos Watkins had Clemson’s first sack of the game, extending the Tigers’ streak to 40 straight games with at least one.

 

Clemson Individual

• Watson set an ACC single-game record with 580 passing yards.

• Watson set a Clemson record with 52 completions, breaking Cullen Harper’s mark of 38 set in 2007 against Virginia Tech.

• Watson became only the sixth player in ACC history to surpass 10,000 career yards of total offense.

• Watson upped his streak to 26 straight games with at least one touchdown pass, the longest active streak in the country.

• Wayne Gallman moved into a tie for seventh place among Clemson’s career leaders in rushing touchdowns, increasing his total to 28. He is tied with Terry Allen, a student coach on Clemson’s 2016 staff.

• Gallman had a career-high three touchdowns.

• Jordan Leggett set the Clemson record for receiving yards by a tight end. His 95 receiving yards increased his career total to 1,342.

• Artavis Scott has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games.

• Scott moved into the top 10 in ACC history for career receptions (220).

• Scott posted a career-high 13 catches for a season-high 125 yards.

• Mike Williams set career highs for receptions (15) and receiving yards (202).

• Williams recorded his sixth receiving touchdown of the season.

• Dexter Lawrence blocked a Pittsburgh field goal to end the first half, Clemson’s third of the season. All three have been by defensive linemen (Carlos Watkins, Christian Wilkins).

• Dorian O’Daniel forced his first fumble of the season. It led to Deon Cain’s ninth touchdown catch of the season a few players later.

• Tremayne Anchrum started his first career game Saturday at left offensive tackle. Clemson started two freshmen at the offensive tackle spots, with Sean Pollard making his second straight start on the right side.

 


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