Tigers Take Care of Business

First it was Kevin Youngblood against Georgia and Louisiana Tech, then it was Derrick Hamilton against the Yellow Jackets. Finally, it was J.J. McKelvey's turn Saturday afternoon. The senior caught 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown to help lead a stagnet Clemson offense to a 30-7 win over Ball State.

It seems like the Tigers have had the luxury of having a different wide receiver step up each week this season. Saturday, it was none other than J.J. McKelvey.

The senior from Moncks Corner, South Carolina brought in a career high 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown to help lead Clemson past Ball State 30-7 in another rain soaked affair at Death Valley.

"This has to be my week right here," said McKelvey. "Going by their size, I thought we could take advantage of them, but they came out and played hard and made it a dogfight. Looking back, I think we probably underestimated them a little bit."

A little bit sure seemed like a lot in the first half as Ball State actually opened the scoring with a 13-play, 77-yard drive. Quarterback Talmadge Hill threw a 3-yard scoring strike to Ryan Hahaj to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead midway through the 1st quarter.

The Tigers wouldn't be able to answer with a touchdown of their own until Yusef Kelly plunged over the goal line from 1-yard out early in the 2nd quarter. A 51-yard pass from Willie Simmons to McKelvey on the previous play help set up the score.

Clemson would add a 24-yard Aaron Hunt field goal just minutes later, and a 9-yard touchdown run from Derrick Hamilton on a reverse to go into the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

The second half saw the Tigers' defense continue to shut down Ball State and All-American candidate Marcus Merriweather. Merriweather was held under 100 yards for the first time in 13 games, even though the Cardinals continued to run the ball trailing by 16 points late in the 4th quarter.

The Tigers would build on their 10-point halftime advantage when Willie Simmons hit J.J. McKelvey for a 9-yard touchdown run late in the 3rd quarter. After Aaron Hunt missed the extra point, the Tigers would fail to score again until Charlie Whitehurst's QB-sneak on 3rd and goal with just over one minute left in the game.

Whitehurst finished his debut in a Clemson uniform by completing all 4 of his passes for 21 yards.

Even though the Tigers coasted to a 23-point win, the mood in the locker room was anything but positive, especially considering that the Cardinals took a 7-point lead headed into the 2nd quarter.

"We talked about just coming out and playing hard and not underestimating Ball State, but I think we did," said freshman cornerback Justin Miller, who finished with his 2nd interception in his last 3 games.

"I think we came out flat today," added head coach Tommy Bowden. "It was hard for us to play this game with much emotion, but the important thing is we came out a with a win and now we have a week to try to get some guys back healthy again before we play Florida State."

With the win, Clemson improves to 3-1 on the year and 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers have next week off before traveling to Tallahassee to take on Florida State October 3rd in a Thursday night game on ESPN.

Other Notes
* After Ball State's opening drive, which was aided by a penalty after the Tigers had held on 3rd and long, the Cardinals were only able to manage 143 yards of total offense.

* DE Bryant McNeal registered sacks on back-to-back plays in the 3rd quarter to help thwart a Ball State drive.

* DT Nick Eason was taken off the field in a cart midway through the 4th quarter. His injury was diagnosed as a sprained knee and he is expected to undergo an MRI Sunday.

* RB Yusef Kelly registered a career-high 99 yards rushing Saturday afternoon. Kelly actually went over the century mark at one point before a holding penalty negated his final rushing attempt.

* Redshirt freshman quarterback Charlie Whitehurst lived up to his preseason hype by completing all 4 of his passes and leading the Tigers on their final scoring drive of the day. Say what you want, but the boy looks smooth out there.

* WR Airese Currie, who most people have felt like is in a sophomore slump, took the handoff on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage and raced around the left end for 11 yards. He also had 1 reception for 6 yards.

* The Tigers failed to convert on a 4th and goal situation similar to last week's game against Georgia Tech. Leading 23-7 in the 4th quarter, Simmons rolled out to his right and was indecisive in his attempt to get the football to back up tight end Bobby Williamson. Simmons waited too long, and just when it appeared he might run it in for the score, he threw an errant pass into the ground.

* RB Tye Hill gained some much needed confidence Saturday by rushing 10 times for 43 yards. He came into the game averaging just 1.6 yards per carry.

* LB John Leake and free safety Eric Meekins led the defense with 14 tackles apiece Saturday. Leake now has 52 total tackles on the year.

* While most of the media will paint an ugly picture on the Tigers' win, Tommy Bowden wrapped up his version of the game nicely, "We had penalties, we had turnovers, and we played uninspired, and we still won 30-7," said Bowden.

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