BOZICH | Three and out: Clemson tries to reward Louisville -- Cards don't take it
CLEMSON, S. C. (WDRB) – A rapid rewind, three-and-out from Death Valley, where Clemson worked doggedly to send Louisville home with a victory. But the Cardinals refused to take it, losing 23-17, stopped on the Tigers' 2-yard line on their final possession:
1. This is one the Louisville players and coaches will be howling about for hours, day, weeks
The Cards limited Clemson to a dozen first downs and 229 ineffective yards. They knocked Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson out of the game in the first quarter. They intercepted two passes.
They completed a 73-yard pass to James Quick and had the ball at the Clemson 8 yard line in the final minute.
And still the Cardinals lost, throwing a pair of incompletions and gaining only six yards in four plays.
“That was a tough game to lose,” U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. “Our defense played extremely well. Offensively we had a tough time getting anything going.”
There's more. After the first 28 minutes, Clemson had one first down, eight yards of total offense – and a 14-10 lead. The Tigers completely mismanaged the clock and were unable to try a chip shot field goal on the final play of the first half.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney went for it on fourth down from his 41 yard line in the third quarter and failed. Then he kicked a field goal on late in the fourth quarter, giving the Cards a chance to beat the Tigers with a touchdown in the final 84 seconds.
Almost happened. Didn't happen.
“Louisville's defense today was the best defense Bobby Petrino has had and the best ‘Petrino defense,' we've seen in awhile,” Swinney said. “We had to fight for every inch out there today.”
For that you can credit a 72-yard punt return by Adam Humphries after the Cards' first possession, plus a fumble by Louisville quarterback Reggie Bonnafon that Clemson's Tavaris Barnes recovered for a touchdown.
Toss in three more Louisville fumbles (one the Cards lost) and 11 penalties for 65 yards and you'll understand why Louisville is now 5-2 overall and 3-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
2. Despite word earlier in the week that he might be available Saturday, Louisville receiver DeVante Parker did not play against the Tigers. Parker waited until about 40 minutes before kickoff before walking onto the field with his teammates, but he was wearing a baseball cap and sweat pants – and no shoulder pads beneath his number 9 jersey.
Parker practiced several times during the week, but the word is that he experienced soreness in the left foot. My original forecast had Parker back for Louisville's game against Florida State on Oct. 30, and that could still be the case.
Parker suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot in late August. He has missed all seven Louisville game after leading the Cardinals in receptions last season.
Without Parker, the Cards completed only four passes in the first half, two to sophomore James Quick. The Cards finished 15 of 30 passing the ball for 212 yards and one score.
The guy Louisville did get back was quarterback Will Gardner. He replaced Bonnafon in the third quarter and completed 10 of 16 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown without taking a sack. (Bonnafon was sacked four times.)
3. The Cards return home to play North Carolina State Saturday. The Wolfpack and Louisville have one common opponent – Clemson. N. C. State (4-3) lost its third consecutive game Saturday, falling, 30-14, at Boston College.
N.C. State played here at Memorial Stadium a week earlier -- and were stuffed 41-0. The Wolfpack managed only 156 yards of total offense while allowing Clemson to roll for 493 yards.
The Wolfpack are coached by Dave Doeren, who is in his second season in Raleigh after coaching at Northern Illinois. Doeren, 42, made his name as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin.
N. C. State started this season with four consecutive victories, but three of the victories were against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion and Presbyterian.
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