NCAA

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

usatsi_9721943.jpg
USA Today Sports

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Deshaun Watson bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy by passing for three touchdowns and running for two more to lead third-ranked Clemson to a 42-35 victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night.

Winning consecutive league titles for the first time in 28 years likely will send the Tigers (12-1, No. 3 CFP) back to the four-team College Football Playoff for the second straight year, providing Watson with an opportunity to resolve unfinished business from last January, when his team lost to Alabama in the national championship game.

The Clemson star completed 23 of 34 passes for 288 yards, including TDs of 21 and 10 yards to Jordan Leggett and 15 yards to Hunter Renfrow for a 42-28 lead midway through the fourth quarter. He also rushed for 85 yards on 17 attempts for the Tigers. They've won back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since winning three straight from 1986-88.

Watson's Virginia Tech counterpart, Jerod Evans, was just as impressive. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound ran for two touchdowns and rallied the Hokies from a 21-point deficit to make it close at the end.

The Hokies (9-4, No. 23 CFP) scored on three straight possessions, trimming what was once a 35-14 deficit to seven points on Evans' 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Cam Phillips' 26-yard TD reception with just under 6 minutes remaining.

Virginia Tech got the ball back with a chance to force overtime. Evans drove his team to the Clemson 23, where the drive stalled when Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley intercepted a pass on fourth-and-6.

The 5 ugliest moments from Maryland's loss to Temple

tyler_mabry.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

The 5 ugliest moments from Maryland's loss to Temple

Saturday's Maryland-Temple game featured an interception, a muffed punt, a goal-line stand, a safety, a failed fake field goal and a missed field goal...just in the first half of a game that will undoubtedly go down as one of the craziest of the season. Temple begged Maryland to win this game. They tried to give it away over and over again, but the Terps weren't biting.

To say Maryland’s 20-17 loss to Temple was an ugly game does not adequately convey how horrendous this contest was. The game of football was set back several years, and it may never recover from what the Terps and Owls did to it on Saturday.

There were too many brutal standouts in this game to mention. but here are the five ugliest moments that led to Maryland’s first loss of the season.

A first-quarter goal-line stand

The Terps were in business early in the first when Antoine Brooks recovered a muffed punt at the Owls’ 19-yard line. Four plays later, Maryland got the ball down to the Temple 1. On fourth down, Mike Locksley rolled the dice...and the Terps got stuffed.


The slowest fake field goal ever

A bad snap on a Temple punt put Maryland on the board with a safety. Trailing 7-2 in the second quarter, the Terps elected to try the slowest fake field goal you have ever seen. You can guess how that turned out.

At this point, you realized we were in for something special with this game. Going for it on fourth down on the goal line is one thing, but you add that to this fake field goal and it sure felt like the Terps were playing desperately. Why would a team with the top-scoring offense in the nation through two weeks decide to play as if they would never score again? Good question.

Maryland gets the lead...and loses it in one play

OK, so that first half was bad, but surely the Terps would rebound in the second half and take control, right?

Not so much.

Anthony McFarland gave Maryland its first lead of the game in the third quarter with a four-yard touchdown run. That lead lasted one play.

Literally, one. Here’s what happened on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff.


No one can recover a fumble

If you want to encapsulate how bananas this game was in one play, this would be it.

Temple running back Jager Gardner busted a big 15-yard run, but fumbled the ball...and then things got nuts.

Maryland did end up recovering the fumble, but instead of getting it at the 40 like they should have, they ended up finally controlling the ball at the 26, losing 14 yards because no one was able to just fall on the ball like they were taught in peewee football.

Maryland gives Temple 1st and goal and the go-ahead touchdown off a 3rd down defensive holding

Somehow the Terps retook the lead because, as I mentioned, Temple really did not want to win this game. Clinging to a 15-13 lead, Maryland came up with a big defensive stand on third down at their own 16 by forcing an incomplete pass. But a flag was thrown on the play and, to no one's surprise, it was on Maryland.

That was just the kind of game this was.

Cornerback Tino Ellis was called for defensive holding, which gave Temple an automatic first down at the 8-yard line.

Instead of fourth and 14 for a team that had trouble on special teams all day long, the Terps gave up the first down and, two players later, the go-ahead touchdown.

Maryland walks away with zero points after getting first and goal twice in the fourth quarter

There was life for the Terps late in the fourth as D.J. Turner returned a punt 55 yards all the way down to Temple 4. Surely the Terps, the top scoring offense in the nation, would be able to get four yards in four plays, right?

Clearly you have not been paying attention.

Maryland got the ball down to the one and on fourth and one, elected to go for it again. Again, they were stuffed.

The issue here was that the offensive line forgot they were supposed to block. That is a significant part of the job of an offensive line. Temple was in the backfield almost instantly.

Because Temple really, really did not want to win this game, however, they gave Maryland one more chance. Owls punter Adam Barry unleashed a seven-yard punt (you read that right, seven yards) that gave the Terps the ball back at the 10. Four plays later, Maryland once again failed to score. In fact, they actually lost two yards overall thanks to a false start penalty.

Woof. This is one of those games where you just burn the tape and move on.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Penn State escapes with 17-10 win over Pitt in 100th meeting

seanclifford_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Iamges

Penn State escapes with 17-10 win over Pitt in 100th meeting

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi joked before the 100th meeting between the Panthers and 13th-ranked Penn State that the next time the rivals face off, he'll either be retired or "in a coffin."

That's a long time to live with some curious decision-making that helped the Nittany Lions escape with a 17-10 win.

Pitt opted to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal at the Penn State 1 trailing by a touchdown with less than 4 minutes to go. Alex Kessman's 19-yard attempt clanked off the upright and the Nittany Lion defense later turned away Pitt's last-ditch possession to win their third straight in the series since it was renewed in 2016.

Journey Brown ran for 109 yards and a touchdown for Penn State (3-0) and Noah Cain's 13-yard third-quarter sprint to the end zone gave Penn State the lead for good. Sean Clifford completed 14 of 30 passes for 222 yards while spending most of the afternoon under heavy duress.

Pitt's Kenny Pickett threw for a career-high 372 yards, but Penn State held firm when it mattered. The Panthers had first-and-goal at the Penn State 1 midway through the fourth quarter. Two passes and a run went nowhere, and Narduzzi opted to kick, despite trailing by seven.

Kessman's miss allowed the Nittany Lions to bleed the clock a bit. Pitt drove from its 16 to the Penn State 26 in the final seconds, but Pickett's 51st and final pass attempt smacked off a sea of hands in the end zone and fell incomplete to let Penn State improve to 53-43-4 in the series.

A rivalry that dates back to 1893 is going on indefinite hiatus. The uncertain future provided a sense of finality, one Narduzzi didn't run from. He stressed to his players the outcome will give the winner bragging rights for years and possibly forever.

While Pitt fought gamely -- overcoming a slow start following a 30-minute weather delay to take a 10-7 lead -- the Panthers allowed Penn State to get into a rhythm late in the first half. Jordan Stout's school-record 57-yard field goal tied it at 10 going into the break.

Using the no huddle to help slow the Panther defense, Clifford led Penn State 88 yards in 13 plays, the last Cain's burst up the middle that put Penn State in front to stay.

Barely.

THE TAKEAWAY

Pitt: Five seasons into his tenure, the swaggering, aggressive defensive style Narduzzi cultivated during his long run as an assistant at Michigan State has finally become a part of the culture at Pitt. The secondary may be the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the defensive line looks capable even with starters Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp both done for the season with knee injuries.

Penn State: Things didn't come quite so easily for the Nittany Lions after a pair of blowouts to open the season. Yet Clifford proved his toughness while taking a pounding and -- just as importantly -- took care of the ball.

UP NEXT

Pitt: Welcomes No. 17 UCF to Heinz Field next Saturday. The Golden Knights drilled the Panthers 45-14 last year in Orlando.

Penn State: Off next week then opens Big Ten play by traveling to Maryland on Friday, Sept. 27. The Nittany Lions have beaten the Terrapins by a combined 104-6.

MORE NCAA NEWS: