NCAA

Clemson edges LSU 25-24 on last-second FG

201212311944710748541-p2.jpeg

Clemson edges LSU 25-24 on last-second FG

ATLANTA (AP) Chandler Catanzaro was not about to let a blocked extra point earlier in the game get in the way of his last-second, game-winning field goal.

Catanzaro kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 14 Clemson a wild 25-24 victory over No. 9 Louisiana State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday night.

``I was ready when the opportunity came to me,'' Catanzaro said. ``It was next-kick mentality. I was so thankful for the opportunity.''

Catanzaro, a former walk-on from Greenville, S.C., made 16 of 17 field goals in the regular season.

``I didn't have any doubt,'' Swinney said of the junior kicker. ``He's just a clutch player all the way.''

The kick gave Clemson its first 11-win season since its 1981 national championship team.

And Tigers coach Dabo Swinney thinks this is only the beginning.

Trailing 24-22, Clemson (11-2) took possession on its 20 with 1:39 remaining. Tajh Boyd passed to DeAndre Hopkins for 26 yards on a fourth-and-16 play during the decisive 10-play drive.

Clemson reached 11 wins for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since the 12-0 1981 team.

``You can't win 12 until you win 11,'' Swinney said. ``You can't win a national championship until you learn how to win games like this.

``This was a landmark win.''

Boyd completed 36 of 50 passes for 346 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He set career highs for attempts and completions while winning the game MVP award.

``Tajh Boyd was phenomenal,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``I did not expect the heroic, if you will, efforts that he had.''

Hopkins had 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. After the big fourth-down catch, he added receptions for 7 and 13 yards in the final drive. LSU safety Greg Reid was flagged for pass interference while defending Hopkins.

Jeremy Hill ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns for LSU (10-3), which carried a 24-13 lead into the final quarter.

After Hopkins' second TD catch, LSU got the ball with 2:43 remaining and threw three straight passes. Only one was complete in the three-and-out series that took only about 1 minute off the clock, leaving Clemson with enough time for its winning drive against LSU's exhausted defense.

Hill did not have a carry in the fourth quarter.

``We had to throw the football,'' Miles said. ``We were not running the football. They were in a position where they outnumbered us in the run.''

LSU's three passes allowed Swinney to save his timeouts.

``I had three timeouts,'' Swinney said. ``If he runs it three times, I can call timeout, timeout, timeout.

``I think (Miles) was trying to win the game. I think he felt confident in the plays. I know he knew he needed to get a first down, because if he gets a first down I have to start burning timeouts.''

Boyd said having 1:39 to stage the final drive ``is like having 10, 15 minutes for us.''

``When I saw that clock and that we had three timeouts I said `Let's get it.'''

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sacked six times and completed 14 of 23 passes for 120 yards. He also threw for a touchdown and an interception.

``It's a tough thing to figure our pass protection was as poor as it was,'' Miles said. ``That's the piece that needs fixing and frankly we've got some young players here we'll address and improve and make some strides going forward.''

LSU scored 10 points off Clemson's two lost fumbles, including one by Sammy Watkins on the second play of the game that set up Hill's first touchdown.

Hopkins scored on an 11-yard reception in the second quarter and a 12-yard grab in the fourth. LSU's Bennie Logan blocked Catanzaro's extra point attempt following Hopkins' first touchdown.

Clemson had a chance to tie it after Hopkins' second TD, but Boyd's pass for the 2-point conversion was incomplete.

Michael Ford had a 43-yard kickoff return for LSU to open the second half. On first down, Hill broke through the line for a 57-yard touchdown run. His 12th rushing touchdown broke Dalton Hilliard's LSU record for a freshman set in 1982.

Clemson lost Watkins to a right ankle injury on his early fumble. X-rays were negative.

Clemson already was without backup receiver Martavis Bryant, who was suspended for the game for failing to meet academic requirements.

Clemson's second costly fumble came midway through the third quarter. Andre Ellington ran for 8 yards but lost the ball on a hit by defensive end Sam Montgomery. Reid recovered the fumble at the Clemson 29, setting up Drew Alleman's 20-yard field goal.

The injury to Watkins left the spotlight on Hopkins, Clemson's leading receiver. He had catches of 17 and 12 yards as Clemson pulled even with an 11-play drive capped by Boyd's 11-yard touchdown run.

After LSU regained the lead on Mettenberger's 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, Hopkins had a 31-yard catch to set up his 11-yard score late in the second quarter.

Hopkins' sliding grab gave him TD receptions in 10 straight games to set an Atlantic Coast Conference record. Virginia's Herman Moore had touchdown catches in nine straight games in 1990.

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

usatsi_10652525.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

Quick Links

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.