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'Not what The Citadel is about': Coach refuses to shorten 2nd half in blowout loss at Clemson

With The Citadel trailing No. 1 Clemson by 49-0 at halftime, game officials came to Bulldogs coach Brent Thompson with an offer. 

They could shorten the second half, lessening some of the pain from a blowout loss. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had already agreed, according to the ACC Network.

But Thompson was having none of it.

"We came here to play 60 minutes of football, and that's what we were going to do," Thompson said. "It didn't matter whether I was going to get beat by 100 or get beat by 50. We were going to stand in there and play a full 60 minutes of football.

"They wanted to shorten (the quarters) to 10 minutes, but that's not what we came here to do. That's not what we're about, that's not what The Citadel is about, and I'm not going to cave in to that at all."

The Bulldogs played Clemson's reserves to a scoreless tie in the second half, but were no match for star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and the rest of the Tigers' talented starters in the first half as Clemson rolled to a 49-0 victory at Memorial Stadium.

But The Citadel did not play up to its standard in the first 30 minutes, either. The Bulldogs had nine penalties and two fumbles in the first 30 minutes, losing one of the fumbles. There was to be no moment like The Citadel's 10-10 halftime tie at No. 1 Alabama two years ago.

"We absolutely could have played better (early in the game)," Thompson said. "The first drive or two, I thought we played okay ... But once we punted a couple of times and started to get behind the sticks, it kind of got away from us. And they obviously can figure things out pretty quickly. We had some special-teams issues that set us back, but I thought our defense played about as well as it could play against a very talented team."

The game was The Citadel's third against a No. 1-ranked FBS team since 2014. The Bulldogs lost to Florida State by 37-12 in 2014 and to Alabama by 50-17 in 2018.

Bright spots for The Citadel:

• Backup quarterback Jaylan Adams, who switched over from defensive back last spring, got his first game action. The 5-10, 165-pound redshirt sophomore ran 12 times for 52 yards, with a long of 17, against Clemson's reserves in the second half.

"What you can see out of Jaylan is that if a play does break down, he has the ability to extend it and make some guys miss. He needs all that game experience to polish up a few things and get his eyes in the right spot. But I think there's a spot for him there in the rotation."

• All-America linebacker Willie Eubanks III and safety Sean-Thomas Faulkner led the Bulldogs' defense with nine tackles each, and linebacker Anthony Britton had eight. Safety Chris Beverly had a sack, and defensive tackles Dalton Owens and Jay Smith (from West Ashley High School) had tackles for loss.

• Receiver Raleigh Webb caught a 22-yard pass and threw a 38-yard pass on a reverse to Ryan McCarthy. That play set up a 47-yard field goal attempt by freshman Colby Kintner, but he missed. He's 2 of 4 on the season.

• All-America punter Matt Campbell, who went viral with a special-teams folly at South Florida last week, rebounded to punt 10 times for a 41.8-yard average, with a long of 51 yards.

• The Citadel earned a $450,000 payday at Clemson after collecting $275,000 at South Florida. 

GameDay therapy

Punter Matt Campbell's misadventure at South Florida caught the eye of ESPN commentator and former NFL punter Pat McAfee. He made Campbell the subject of his "For the Brand Therapy" segment on ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday.

In a 27-6 loss at USF, Campbell mishandled a snap and then almost whiffed on a hurried punt.

The football went straight into the arms of a South Florida player, resulting in a -10 yard punt, a 0-yard return for a touchdown and an embarrassing moment for the junior from Dacula, Georgia.

McAfee interviewed Campbell and brought along some other NFL kickers to share their own embarrassing moments.

"You're actually even more of a part of our fraternity now," McAfee told Campbell. 

McAfee recalled how he missed two field goals during his college days at West Virginia and "received 27 death threats."

"No matter how long you play, everybody goes through something like this," said New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead. "The guys who persevere, they don't let it define them."

Notes

• Citadel fullbacks Clay Harris and Logan Braucht were not available against Clemson, along with starting cornerback Jay Howard. None of the three were out because of COVID-19. Braucht, a converted linebacker, started at fullback against South Florida. Harris was injured against USF.

• Citadel tackle Summie Carlay, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, wore No. 87 and played tight end against Clemson. He had a blocking below the waist penalty in the first half ... Grad transfer running back Alex Ramsey, an FCS All-American from VMI, has entered the transfer portal for a second time. He opted out of the 2020 fall season for The Citadel … Defensive back Torian Spencer, who also opted out this season, will transfer to Division II Morehouse College, he said on Twitter.

• West Ashley High School product Jay Smith provided one of the few reasons for Citadel fans to cheer. The 6-1, 270-pound redshirt sophomore stopped 6-4, 250-pound Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei on a fourth-and-2 in the third quarter, one of the Bulldogs’ few defensive stops.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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