Turning Point: Takeaways by Kearse, Breeland turn the momentum against Terps

Kearse's interception, Breeland's fumble-causing hit, Shuey's recovery pave the way to Clemson's 7th win

Clemson's Jayron Kearse intercepts a pass intended for Maryland's Nigel King during the second quarter at Maryland.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Jayron Kearse intercepts a pass intended for Maryland's Nigel King during the second quarter at Maryland.

They're not called 'turnovers' for nothing.

Clemson's 40-27 victory over Maryland Saturday turned on a pair of Tiger takeaways, which stole the Terps' hard-earned momentum and helped put Clemson in control.

The first came early in the second quarter, with Maryland on top 7-6 and looking for more after driving for a first-and-goal at the Clemson nine yard line.

On third-and-goal from the six, freshman Jayron Kearse read Terp quarterback Caleb Rowe as he locked in on a receiver in the end zone, moved into position and then leaped to snare the football. Kearse returned the interception 25 yards, and the Tigers responded with a drive for a short Chandler Catanzaro field goal and a 9-7 Clemson lead.

The Tigers never trailed after that.

They broke their red-zone drought with a touchdown drive late in the first half for a 16-7 lead at the break.

The Terps cashed in fumbles by Sammy Watkins and Rod McDowell for field goals that cut Clemson's margin to 16-13, and the Tigers answered with another short field goal by Catanzaro after yet another drive fizzled in the red zone.

With the game still hanging in the balance after an exchange of punts, Bashaud Breeland came up with Clemson's second game-turning takeaway - a hit on Maryland running back Albert Reid that jarred the football lose. Spencer Shuey recovered and returned the ball nine yards to the Maryland 22.

From there, Tajh Boyd ran 13 yards on a second-and-10 keeper, and then, after a five-yard run by McDowell, ran the read-option for a four-yard touchdown that put Clemson back in command, 26-13.

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Comments » 2

TigerNE writes:

The real game changer for me was Boyd getting to use his legs finally. That caused him and the offense to start "clicking" and get rid of so many of the mistakes that have plagued the team for the past 3 or 4 games. Call it what you want - "rhythm", "tempo", "miscommunication". Whatever.

We broke through once Boyd felt he didn't HAVE to find an open receiver when not handing off to a back. For whatever reason, he gets all messed up when he doesn't think he can get out of trouble if needed by running.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

For a team with a sputtering offense we did okay yesterday. We could have easily scored well into the 50’s with any goal line offense at all and low and behold we had a tailback that had a good day. Seems like I made a comment last week saying if we gave the ball to a tailback 30 times he would rush for 200 yards and our team would get 250 yards. Well, I was wrong. McDowell got 165 or something and our team got 247. All the people that complained about our running game last week must have caused them to re-energize because they had a running game yesterday. It was not pretty, but it was a win and it was not as easy as I thought it would be, but we wound up doing alright in the game. The offense had some good numbers and the defense played well for the most part. All in all, it was a ragged game that we won in spite of ourselves. The turnovers we made cost us dearly against Florida St but the difference in competition showed yesterday as the turnovers didn’t hurt us as bad. Let’s have a good week of practice and go up to Charlottesville and beat them unmercifully and come home and do the same to that school from Atlanta.

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