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Halftime musings: Clemson finds its stride against No. 20 North Carolina

Ashleigh Snyder
Tight end Jake Briningstool crosses into the endzone to place the Tigers on the board in the second quarter.

Clemson is leading North Carolina by a score of 14-7 going into halftime. Here are a few key takeaways from the first two quarters:

Offense/Special Teams:

— The Clemson offense started to find their footing with some help from defensive turnovers, with two solid consecutive runs by Phil Mafah followed by a 26-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Adam Randall to put the Tigers into Tar Heel territory. After a slow first quarter on offense, tight end Jake Briningstool punched one in in the second quarter to answer the Tar Heels’ score and even out the playing field at 7-7.

— After North Carolina pinned the Tigers back into their own 5-yard line for their second drive, a 22-yard-designed scramble by Cade Klubnik and hard-fought runs by Will Shipley moved the Tigers to mid-field. Despite the Tigers’ efforts, a failed fake punt on 4th-and-1 left the Tar Heels with great field position near the 50-yard line.

— Despite a run game that has totaled 130 total rush yards for Clemson, a fumble at the Tar Heels’ 6-yard line by Will Shipley dismantled a great drive by the Tigers that would have put Clemson up 14-7 with two minutes left in the half. Shipley leads the team in rushing yards with 51 yards off of 12 carries.

—A roughing the passer penalty committed by Cedric Grey of the Tar Heels erased what would’ve been an interception and gave the Tigers another opportunity to take the lead heading into the half. In the final play of the half, Klubnik flushed the pocket and dove in for a touchdown putting the Tigers up 14-7. Klubnik has thus far passed for 103 yards, completing 14 of 21 attempts in the first half. The sophomore’s running ability has truly made an impact, as he rushed for 43 yards on seven attempts including his 3-yard touchdown run to end the half.


— The Tigers were able to get the last laugh on two drives that proved to be promising for North Carolina, taking the ball away twice. The first was from freshman T.J. Parker, who recovered a fumble from running back Omarion Hampton to keep the Tar Heels scoreless in the red zone. The Tigers again dodged an incredibly close bullet from a Hampton 63-yard run that was punched out by cornerback Nate Wiggins. The ball went out of bounds in the end zone, being a touchback and forcing their second turnover in the first quarter.

— Clemson continued to stop the Heels when it mattered in the second quarter. On a 4th-and-2 around midfield, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. stopped Hampton to turn the ball over and place Clemson at a great field position. Trotter also recorded a sack later on in the quarter.

— The Clemson defense gave up big plays early, leaving Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye two open passes to Bryson Nesbit and Devontez Walker to give North Carolina a 1st-and-goal with three yards to go. Despite forcing a turnover on Hampton’s big run as well, Clemson will need to eliminate the 20+ yard plays. Maye continued to torch the Tigers with the deep pass, opening the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver J.J. Jones to put Clemson on the backfoot first and lead 7-0 in the first quarter.

— Despite the big play factor that the Tar Heels’ quarterback possesses, the defense has gotten to him early, forcing incompletions before the big play opens up at times. Maye is 9 of 20 for 142 yards and a touchdown.

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About the Contributors
Griffin Barfield
Griffin Barfield, Asst. Sports Editor
Malone Kinard-Huisinger
Malone Kinard-Huisinger, Senior Reporter
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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