Time Machine: Syracuse blows out Clemson in 1996 Gator Bowl, 41-0

first_imgJACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Their critics said they did not belong in a New Year’s Day bowl game.But the Syracuse Orangemen quieted the naysayers with a 41-0 whalopping of Clemson in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.For many Orangemen, it was their first experience in the postseason, and the emotions ran high before and after the game.“I never had this feeling before,” SU defensive lineman Dave Rebar said.“I had an adrenaline rush so high that it was unexplainable,” SU running back Malcolm Thomas said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFrom the opening possession, Clemson had little success stopping the SU offense.When the Tigers did get the ball, their fortunes got even worse.“They were by far the better team,” Clemson head coach Tommy West said,The Orangemen offense bombarded the Tigers with a Gator Bowl-record 20 first-quarter points, highlighted by a 38-yard touchdown pass from game MVP Donovan McNabb to Marvin Harrison.According to Syracuse players, much of the passing success dealt with the early success in the running attack.“Our biggest fear was not being able to run the ball,” Pasqualoni said.The Orangemen did not run for an overwhelming total, but it was enough to keep the Clemson defense honest.Thomas led the Orangemen with 71 rushing yards and two touchdown runs.“I think as an offense we kept them off balance,” Thomas said.Though the offense was steamrolling Clemson, it was the defense that keyed the domination.“Our defense made Clemson commit turnovers, and that was a key in the game,” Thomas said.The Tigers entered the game with one of the strongest running games in the country, rushing for 2,855 yards.The signature play of the game for the Syracuse defense came on Clemson’s first possession.The Tigers moved the ball 39 yards before they were faced with a fourth-and-two situation at Syracuse’s 36-yard line. West decided to go for the first down.Tailback Raymond Priester, who had rushed for 18 yards on the drive, took the handoff and tried to turn the left corner, but SU safety Donovin Darius knifed through the Clemson blocking scheme to stop him for a 2-tard loss.Darius finished the with 10 tackles, two for a loss.With their inability to run the ball, the Tigers were forced to go to the air.Clemson averaged just 17 pass attempts during the regular season but threw 24 passes, completing just 11, against the Orangemen.One of the factors in Clemson’s less-than-impressive passing statistics was SU cornerback Kevin Abrams, who intercepted two passes.Abrams’ first interception came on Clemson’s second possession, setting up the 38-yard strike to Harrison.In the second quarter the Tigers were again faced with fourth and two, this time on the Syracuse 7-yard line.Down by 20, West decided to take a timeout. The Clemson field goal unit came on, and the Orangemen decided to use a timeout.After SU’s timeout, the Clemson offense came back on the field to take a shot at the end zone.It was another test of the Syracuse defense that had struggled miserably in its regular season finale against Miami.Clemson quarterback Nealon Greene rolled to his right and threw for tight end Lamont Hall, who had not caught a pass all season.The pass fell incomplete, and the Orangemen had their second fourth-down stand of the game.“We showed that we can go out and play with anyone,” McNabb said. Comments Published on October 23, 2014 at 12:18 am Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Related Stories Ishmael emerges with strong work ethic, proves vital heading into Clemson gamelast_img

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