Clemson Claws Out a Close Victory Over LSU in the Chick-fil-A BowlJanuary 1, 2013
Atlanta, Georgia - Two Tiger teams from Death Valley entered the Georgia Dome but only one could prevail in the final game of the 2012 season. Clemson kicker Chandler Cantanzaro sent LSU back to the bayou in defeat with his 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Clemson a 25-24 victory in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson #14 ranked finishes the season with a record of 11-2 (7-1) and with the loss LSU #8 ends with a 10-3 (6-3) record.
Things did not start off well for Clemson falling behind only 55 seconds into the game. An early turnover by Clemson lead to a Jeremy Hill 17-yard TD run by the LSU running back. LSU had all the early momentum but that did not last long as Clemson was always able to remain within an arm's length of the Tigers from LSU. Clemson quickly rebounded on the scoreboard with an 11 yard run by Quarterback Taj Boyd. The extra point tied the game up at seven and that score held true through the end of the first quarter.
After a number of punts from both teams, LSU was able to regain the lead at the 13:12 mark of the first half when wide receiver Jarvis Landry caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Mettenberger to put LSU up 14-7 after the made point after.
Clemson quickly showed its comeback ability once again by closing the gap before the half. Taj Boyd hooked up with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for an 11 touchdown completion to bring Clemson within a point. The extra point attempt was then block by Bennie Logan for LSU in what would end up being a very costly play in the game. Clemson trailed LSU 14-13 at the half. This marked the first time this season that Clemson has trailed at the half.
LSU would receive the second half kickoff looking to expand their one-point lead. After a nice return to their own 43 yard line, the Tigers scored on their first offensive play of the second half with a 57-yard touchdown run from running back Jeremy Hill. That was only 17-seconds into the half. The point after was good and that gave LSU and 21-13 lead. The Tigers would build on that lead a few possessions later after a successful 20-yard field goal from placekicker Drew Alleman. This made the score 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Trailing by two possessions, Clemson would rely on their passing attack to get them back into the game. Quarterback Taj Boyd would lead the charge for the Tigers who scored three times in the quarter. The first points went on the board at the 9:26 mark as kicker Chandler Cantanzaro connected on a 26-yard field goal bringing Clemson within eight points and making it a single possession game at 24-16.
After a critical stop on defense, Clemson got the ball back with a chance to tie the game with just under three minutes to play. DeAndre Hopkins caught his second touchdown pass of the night to bring Clemson within two points. The Tigers would then go for two conversion and attempt to tie the game. A Taj Boyd pass would fall a few feet short of his intended receiver making things extremely tough for Clemson down 24-22 with only 2:47 left on the clock.
LSU would take over the ball needing only a couple first downs to ice the game. After a completed pass for a short gain, Quarterback Zach Mettenberger would miss on his next two attempts stopping the clock with both incomplete passes and preserving two time-outs for Clemson. LSU would then punt the ball into the end zone giving the ball back to Clemson with a chance to win the game.
Clemson would start at their own 20 yard line needing to get into field goal range with under two minutes to play. Clemson was down to its final chance needing to convert on a fourth and 14. They were able to come up with a huge completion from Boyd to Hopkins for 26 yards. A couple plays later LSU would commit a costly pass interference penalty putting the ball in LSU territory. One completion later Clemson was down to the LSU 17 yard line. A three-yard loss would then place the ball in the middle of the field for a 37 yard field goal attempt. Chandler Catanzaro came through in the clutch with a game winner giving Clemson the 25-24 victory over LSU. The game winner was the first and only time Clemson lead in the ballgame.
Clemson won their second win in the Georgia Dome this season after starting off the season with a 26-19 win over last season's Chick-fil-A Bowl champions Auburn in the “kickoff classic” to open this season. A sellout crowd of 68,027 witnessed one of the closest and best comeback wins in the bowls history. The sellout was the 15th in a row for the bowl. While the debate over Death Valley will continue for one incredible night Clemson and the ACC own the bragging rights.