Down by two possessions heading into the fourth quarter, No. 14 Clemson shocked No. 8 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, 25-24, in Atlanta Monday night.
On the second play of the game, LSU defensive end and NFL prospect Barkevious Mingo knocked the ball out of Sammy Watkins' hands and LSU recovered. Two plays later, LSU freshman running back Jeremy Hill scampered 17 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up, 7-0.
Tajh Boyd and Clemson responded on the next drive, though, going 75 yards in 11 plays, highlighted by Boyd's 11-yard touchdown run. The first quarter ended with the game knotted up, 7-7. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sacked four times in the opening frame, and senior defensive end Malliciah Goodman had 2.5 of those sacks.
But after an eight-play, 40-yard drive, LSU was able to find the end zone again, highlighted by a six-yard touchdown catch by sophomore receiver Jarvis Landry. The SEC representative was leading, 14-7, with 13:12 remaining in the first half.
However, Clemson once again responded with 5:43 remaining in the half as Boyd hooked up with explosive junior receiver DeAndre Hopkins for an 11-yard score. It capped off an eight-play, 70-yard drive. But just when you thought Clemson was going to tie it up, the extra point was blocked and LSU headed into the half with a 14-13 lead.
That lead expanded quickly in the second half. After a 43-yard kickoff return by junior running back Michael Ford, Hill exploded 57 yards for another touchdown on LSU's first play of the third quarter. LSU had the lead, 21-13.
After Clemson senior running back Andre Ellington fumbled midway through the quarter, LSU extended the lead, 24-13, on a 20-yard field goal by Drew Alleman.
Clemson found some life in its first drive of the fourth quarter, going 63 yards on 13 plays before Chandler Catanzaro swung home a 26-yard field goal. The No. 14 Tigers found themselves inching closer, 24-16.
After a three-and-out by LSU, the door was open for the ACC powerhouse to tie the game on the next drive.
Clemson drove 77 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to Hopkins, but the ensuing two-point conversion attempt was batted down and Dabo Swinney's squad found themselves trailing, 24-22, with just 2:47 remaining in the game.
But after another three-and-out for LSU, Clemson got a chance to put the ACC on top. And so the Tigers did.
Clemson drove 60 yards in 10 plays before Catanzaro kicked home a 37-yard field goal with no time remaining. Clemson had won, 25-24. Hopkins caught three balls for 46 yards on the drive, including a crucial 26-yard catch on a 4th-and-16 with the game on the line.
LSU grad Shaquille O'Neal tweeted before the game:
LSU sophomore receiver Jarvis Landry was feeling good after his touchdown catch in the second quarter, as Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com pointed out:
Jarvis Landry jawing with Clemson players on the sideline then jawing with Clemson players on the field. Just jawing to jaw #LSUvsCLEM— Edward Aschoff (@AschoffESPN) January 1, 2013
Bleacher Report SEC college football writer Barrett Sallee tweeted at halftime:
Boyd has been awesome for Clemson. LSU needs to force some him into mistakes in the second half.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) January 1, 2013
Travis Sawchik of the Charleston Post & Courier liked what he saw from Jeremy Hill when he ripped off a long touchdown run to begin the second half:
That's not how you start a second half. LSU gashes a hole in the Clemson line and Jeremy Hill goes 57 yards for a TD.— Travis Sawchik (@travis_sawchik) January 1, 2013