Turning Point: Bashaud Breeland, Spencer Shuey, Stephone Anthony slam the door

Big defensive plays late put an end to 'who has the ball last' scenario

Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey, right, tackles Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the first half of their Orange Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Friday night.

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey, right, tackles Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the first half of their Orange Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Friday night. Mark Crammer Independent Mail

See-saw, back-and-forth: 20-9, then 20-29, 34-29, 34-35, 40-35.

It was beginning to look as if the team that touched the ball last would win.

Then Bashaud Breeland and Spencer Shuey stepped in, with a bit of help from Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett.

On third-and-13 from the Clemson 46 with 3:06 remaining, Ohio State's Braxton Miller dropped back to pass, faced pressure on left from Beasley, stepped up into a collapsing middle and pressure from Jarrett, and was then blind-sided from his right by Breeland on a corner blitz.

Breeland's hit knocked the ball loose, and Shuey reacted and grabbed the game by the throat. The play was ruled a fumble and recovery, though it might as easily been ruled an interception, since Shuey snared the ball before it hit the ground.

Either way, Clemson had the first of two plays needed to secure its 40-35 Orange Bowl victory over the Buckeyes.

"It was definitely the play that Breeland was able to make," said Shuey. "He was able to come free and get some pressure on the quarterback. He tried to throw it away late, and Breeland was right there on them, and I was able to get the ball and snatch it up before it hit the ground."

Ohio State had a final chance, after Tajh Boyd's third-down pass was intercepted by Buckeyes at midfield, as the Tigers attempted to make a clinching third-down conversion.

As it turned out, the clincher came a play later, when Anthony dropped back into coverage and snared a pass thrown by Miller - the finishing touch on Clemson's second consecutive 11-win season and first BCS bowl victory.

"I just felt like we got turnovers and got stops when we needed them and got huge plays in the game that turned it around for us and sealed it up," said Anthony. "It all goes back to getting the stops when we needed them, and they have great players too. They were going to make some plays.

"I just like the way we bounced back and kept responding to the adversity and getting the stops and two big turnovers at the end of the game."

Shuey said the finish was fitting, because of the way the Tigers' offense and defense worked together throughout the game.

"It was great to see how the defense and the offense complemented each other so well all night," Shuey said. "They had our back all night. We gave them a few disappointing plays and left some guys wide open and had some definite busts. They would come over to us and say they had our back, and then they would step up and put some points on the board.

"And when they turned the ball over, we would go out there and get some stops. So it was a great thing to see how well we complemented each other."

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