Cullen Harper threw a pair of touchdown passes and an opportunistic defense did the rest as the Orange squad defeated the White squad, 16-7, in the annual Clemson Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. The contest was played in front of an estimated crown of 25,000 fans in the event that concluded Clemson's Spring Practice.
The game was composed of the standard four 15-minute quarters, but the final 20 minutes were played with a running clock.
Picking up where he left off last season when he led the ACC in passing efficiency, Harper was efficient, completing 13 of 18 passes for 142 yards and two scores while playing just the first half. He connected with sophomore wide receiver Xavier Dye with 8:05 to play in the first quarter on a 20-yard strike over the middle, then followed that with a 10-yard touchdown toss to Tyler Grisham at the 12:20 mark in the second quarter. Dye finished the game with six catches for 87 yards to lead the Orange team receivers. Paul Macko was the top rusher with 10 carries for 36 yards, while C.J. Spiller had 8-20 and added two receptions for 12 yards in limited work.
The Orange defense dominated the line of scrimmage from start to finish, allowing a net total of -9 rushing yards. The Clemson offense was without two of its top players as James Davis, the second leading rusher in Clemson history with 3,130 yards, did not play in the game after having shoulder surgery last week.
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford also sat out the spring game while recovering from a broken ankle suffered at Maryland last year. Both will be ready for the beginning of practice in August.
The Orange team forced three turnovers in the game. Defensive end Kevin Alexander forced a fumble on an attempted reverse by Aaron Kelly that was recovered by linebacker Josh Miller in the first quarter. Three plays later, Harper found Dye for the game's first score of the day by the Orange team.
The other two turnovers came at critical times, including one that sealed the game for the Orange squad. Red-shirt freshman cornerback Coty Sensabaugh picked off a Willy Korn pass down the sideline midway through the fourth quarter, and junior corner Crezdon Butler intercepted Brandon Speweik's pass into the end zone on the game's final play.
Korn quarterbacked the White team for much of the day and completed 14-25 passes for 117 yards. Aaron Kelly was the top receiver in the game with eight receptions for 108 yards an a touchdown.
It took the Orange coaching staff only a quarter and a half to reach into its bag of tricks. With 8:43 to play and a 13-0 lead, senior wide receiver Tyler Grisham took a handoff, ran to the right side, gave a quick pump-fake, and hit Dye over the middle for a 25-yard gain.
The White team responded four minutes later, when senior receiver Nelson Faerber got a lateral screen pass from Korn, then turned and fired a strike to a wide-open Kelly for a 28-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 13-7. That was as close as the White squad would get.
The Orange team put the margin at two scores in the third period when Richard Jackson made a 35-yard field goal. It culminated a 10-play 79 yard drive that was jumpstarted by a 32-yard pass from Mike Wade to Terence Ashe.
There were many defensive leaders throughout the game. Quarterbacks could not be tackled so there was a liberal interpretation of sacks, a rule that led to 11 total sacks in the game. Highly-touted freshman defensive end Da'Quan Bowers had an impressive showing for the White squad, leading all tacklers with seven stops, including two sacks.
On the first of his sacks, Bowers split two blockers and was in the backfield immediately after the snap to stop Harper. Byron Maxwell had an interception and a pass deflection, while linebacker Stanley Hunter, outside linebacker DeAndre McDaniel and Chris Clemons all had five stops apiece.
The Orange defense was led by junior cornerback Crezdon Butler, who made six stops in addition to his interception. Junior defensive end Ricky Sapp added a pair of sacks for a unit that gave up only 181 total yards. Antwon Murchison had three tackles, but two were behind the line of scrimmage.
"We tried to make today's game fan friendly so we divided the teams. We won't put a lot of stock in the field of this game. The previous 14 practices will show us much more," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden.
"We threw a lot of passes and I saw some good things in the passing game. Xavier Dye was outstanding. He has played well all spring and he so today I know Coach (Dabo) Swinney has been pleased with his work ethic. Aaron Kelly has shown consistency through his entire career here and that continued today. I was pleased with Da'Quan Bowers as well. He has had a good spring even though he doesn't know what he is doing yet. He should be in high school and will continue to learn But, he has shown a lot this spring.
"We are young in the offensive line. We will have four new starters on the o-line next year. Chris Hairston has shown us that he is ready to play. We have some other players who are talented, but they are young and will improve with experience.
"The best thing that happened today is that no one got hurt."
O&W GAME: Orange Beats White, 16-7
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