Clemson scored on their opening drive for the eighth time this year, and the ten play, 68-yard drive only had one negative play (an incomplete pass early).
After a three-and-out by Miami, Ray Ray McCloud muffed the punt after tripping to give Miami the ball 34 yards further down the field. Michael Badgley’s 46-yard field goal from the left hash was wide left and no good.
A deep strike from Kelly Bryant to Ray Ray McCloud was completed for 25 yards, safety Sheldrick Redwine forced the fumble, and Milan Richard recovered the fumble 15 yards further down the field.
Kelly Bryant’s 11-yard scramble to the left corner of the end zone put the Tigers up 14-0 with 3:02 left in the first quarter. Miami’s three and out ended with a 16-yard punt by Zach Feagles.
The 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter is the largest lead at the end of the first quarter in ACC Championship Game history.
Out of the nine plays on Clemson’s next scoring drive, seven were runs by Adam Choice. His 1-yards rushing touchdown gave Clemson a 21-0 lead with 12:49 in the first half, tying the record for the biggest lead in the ACC Championship’s game history and was the largest for Miami this year.
Kelly Bryant completed five straight passes before the drive stalled, but he threw an 18-yard strike to McCloud on third-and-16 to keep the drive alive.
Bryant completed his first 15 passes of the half (for 164 yards), breaking Deshaun Watson’s record for most consecutive completions to start the ACC Championship game.
Bryant then threw three straight incomplete passes (one was dropped) that ended in the first failed third down conversion and punt for the Tigers of the night.
Neither team managed to mount a significant drive in the rest of the half, and Clemson entered halftime with a 21-0 lead.
Ray Ray McCloud muffed Miami’s first punt, but Miami couldn’t capitalize on the second chance and missed a field goal. On the next drive, McCloud fumbled after deep pass that Milan Richard recovered.
Kelly Bryant played his best half of the year so far and broke the ACC Championship record for the most consecutive completions to start the game with 15.
Clemson’s defense has held Miami to 64 total yards on 26 plays, while scoring three rushing touchdowns on Miami’s vaunted defense – the most the Hurricanes have surrendered this year.
Ray Ray McCloud fumbled twice early in the game, but Miami was unable to capitalize on his mistakes.
Clemson’s offense stalled to end the first half: Kelly Bryant completed his first fifteen passes before missing his last five, while Clemson’s last three drives ended in zero total points.
Path to Victory:
Kelly Bryant needs to settle back down and gain back his confidence, and Clemson will need to impose their will on Miami by running the ball. Most importantly, don’t let Miami hang around and sneak into the game. If Clemson can finish the game out, they will earn their third consecutive trip to the playoffs.