By Terrance Turner
Sept. 4, 2021
Tonight two of the top five football teams in the country faced off in primetime. The Georgia Bulldogs (No. 5) and Clemson Tigers (No. 3) met at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, for what was anticipated as one of the biggest games of Labor Day weekend.
Both team’s defenses foiled offense on play after play. “Neither defense has allowed anything close to an explosive play tonight,” noted one of the announcers for ABC. Clemson struggled to run the ball against Georgia’s defense, and Georgia only managed 42 yards of their own. Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny missed a short field goal that should have given Georgia an earlier lead. Neither team scored any points until Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei was intercepted by defensive back Christopher Smith, with three minutes left in the second quarter.
That pick-six was the only scoring play of the half. The Tigers wer shutout the entire first half — remarkable since Clemson has scored a touchdown in the first half of 143 consecutive games. Georgia led 7-0 at halftime.
IN the second half, Georgia’s defense continued to dog Uiagalelei, and Clemson continued to struggle offensively. Clemson caught a big break after intercepting Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels. But the Bulldogs sacked Uiagalelei twice, forcing the Tigers to punt.
Georgia embarked on a strong drive, helped by running back Kenny McIntosh. Clemson was flagged for defensive pass interference, which made it 1st and goal for Georgia. The Clemson defense stopped them from reaching the end zone. But Podlesny made a 23-yard field goal that extended Georgia’s lead. The Bulldogs led 10-0 with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
Uiagalelei was sacked again by the Bulldogs defense (their sixth sack) on the Tigers’ drive. Georgia retained its ten-point lead at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth, the Tigers got as close as they would come to scoring. Uiagalelei found Joseph Ngata for a 44-yard gain, but once again the Georgia defense kept them from reaching the end zone. Clemson settled for a 22-yard field goal. The Bulldogs, who got the ball back with over three minutes to spare, could’ve done the same. Instead of kicking a field goal, though, Georgia was content to pick up rushing yards and just let the clock run. The Bulldogs won. 10-3.