Turning point: Ball State's onside kick attempt opens floodgates for Tigers

Lateek Townsend's recovery sends Clemson off and running on 24-0 second-quarter blitz

Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins catches a pass over Ball State Cardinals cornerback Jason Pinkston in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins catches a pass over Ball State Cardinals cornerback Jason Pinkston in the second quarter.

The avalanche started with Ball State's most brazen and hopeful play of the game.

Down just 21-10 after a 45-yard field goal by Steve Schott with 9:30 left in the second quarter, Cardinals' coach Pete Lembo called for an onside kick.

It could have, and probably should have worked. The well-played ball bounced hard off the hands of Clemson's Adam Humphries, rolled on the ground, and was pounced upon by the Cardinals. It squirted free again, and this time Lateek Townsend beat a swarm of white-jerseyed Ball State players to the bottom of the pile, and secured the ball for a Clemson first down at the Cardinals' 33.

Three plays later, on third-and-11, Tajh Boyd delivered a pass over the middle to DeAndre Hopkins, who sliced through the Ball State secondary for a 34-yard touchdown and a 28-10 Clemson lead.

Ball State's next two possessions ended with interceptions by Stephone Anthony and Darius Robinson inside the Cardinals' 40, and the Tigers quickly converted with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to Hopkins (his Clemson record-tying third TD reception of the game), and a stop-and-go 27-yard touchdown run by Rod McDowell.

Clemson led 42-10, capped its scoring outburst with a school and ACC-record 61-yard field goal by Spencer Benton on the final play of the first half, and cruised the rest of the way.

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