A Win is a Win

It was far from a thing of beauty, but for Clemson coach Tommy Bowden winning ugly is still winning, and that's all the matters.

The Tigers benefited from four questionable officiating calls, particularly one interference call that went their way in the end zone, and posted a 10-7 victory over Maryland on Saturday.

The Tigers (3-4, 2-3 ACC) got a field goal just before halftime for their first points and then scored their only touchdown in the closing seconds when QB Charlie Whitehurst led an eight-play, 58-yard drive that culminated in TB Reggie Merriweather's 2-yard touchdown plunge.

Merriweather stretched his arms just on the goal line with 23 seconds remaining just one play after Maryland DB Gerrick McPhearson was called for interference in the end zone against WR Kelvin Grant.

That penalty, plus an earlier reversal of a ruling on a fumble that gave Clemson the ball back following an apparent Maryland recovery, left Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen steaming afterward, though he declined to comment.

Bowden merely said he hadn't really seen the play.

Merriweather's touchdown ended what had been a frustrating offensive day for the Tigers, who netted only 36 yards rushing after Whitehurst's five sacks were subtracted. Whitehurst threw for 170 yards but needed 31 attempts to do it. He had only 14 completions, but five came in six attempts in the final drive.

"Right now we are making way too many mistakes," said the Tigers' sixth year head coach. "We aren't playing smart. We had some opportunities to make some plays on some deep balls and we just didn't hit them.

"Charlie has usually been more accurate than that with those deep balls. The big play I felt like we needed to make, we never made it, and we had some opportunities."

It was the second consecutive victory for the Tigers, who beat Utah State a week earlier, and the second time this season they have benefited from pass interference calls to win games. In their opening victory over Wake Forest, the Tigers had two penalties keep alive their late drive for the touchdown that sent the game into overtime.

The victory also kept alive Clemson's hopes of getting the six wins needed to be bowl eligible. They need three victories in their final four games -- against North Carolina State on Saturday, at Miami on Nov. 6, at Duke on Nov. 13 and home against South Carolina on Nov. 20.

Game Ball: LB LeRoy Hill -- On defensive kind of day, the senior stood out for the Tigers. He had 10 tackles, including a sack.

Keep an Eye On: WR Kelvin Grant -- The sophomore returned from a one-game suspension for academic reasons to make four catches against Maryland. But just as vital was a catch he didn't make. He drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on Clemson's final drive, and the Tigers scored the deciding touchdown on the next play.

Quote to Note: "You hate to be that anemic on offense, but it takes your defense to another level." -- Coach Tommy Bowden, after the 10-7 victory over Maryland.

Looking Good: The defense overall played well against Maryland, holding the Terrapins to 194 yards. The Tigers were especially effective against the run, holding the Terps to a net 83 on the ground.

Still Needs Work: The passing game continues to operate in fits and starts. QB Charlie Whitehurst was only 14-for-31 for 170 yards, though he didn't throw an interception.

Roster Report: WR Chansi Stuckey (ankle) went out in the second quarter and didn't return. The Tigers also were without WR Curtis Baham, who was suspended for reasons not announced. Baham has eight catches for the season. Sophomore TB Reggie Merriweather got his first start and rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries.

CUTigers.com Top Stories