By the third round, the sun had dried the ground out to a reasonable extent. The playing conditions turned into something that one could expect but that didn’t change the strange morning that Texas TUFF had. The historic powerhouse had lost two games to unheard of teams, South Florida (has never made it to Regionals) and Georgia Tech (hasn’t made Nationals since 1992).
Next up on the slate for TUFF was Clemson. The Joint Chiefs had already beat a team seeded high about them in UNC. However, many would expect that coming off a universe point victory against a heavily favored team, Clemson would have a hangover or that TUFF would have picked itself up by its bootstraps and fixed the things that were wrong with it.
Neither of those two things proved to be true at Clemson came out on top 12-11 in its second straight universe point game.
The game started as one would have expected it to at any other tournament in any other year. Texas broke Clemson’s offense quickly and easily to take the 1-0 lead. However, senior captain Ben Slade would answer back quickly for the Joint Chiefs, Slade hucked the disc to freshman sensation James Cox to tie the game early.
After that tie Clemson spent the rest of the game playing “catch up.” Texas took leads of 3-1, 6-4, 8-6 and 10-8, only to have Clemson close the gap to a single score or tie the score each time, largely thanks to the play of Slade and Cox.
Slade threw or caught or threw Clemson’s first three scores and Cox spent the whole game making blocks and athletic plays on the other side of the disc. Cox earned a break almost entirely by himself by getting a point block on the goaline and then making a sliding catch on the sideline in the endzone.
Once Clemson tied the score at 10-10 the hard cap was on. The game was going to be decided in the next point and Clemson was pulling to Texas. Suffice to say that the pressure was on, Clemson was trying to stay alive in the Championship hunt and Texas was trying to avoid what was probably their first 0-3 start since the last time TUFF ventured to CCC.
One pull later Texas had dropped the pull and Clemson had worked the disc into the endzone to earn its second straight universe point win over a favored opponent.
“It feels good to win this one,” Slade told us after the game. “Especially since we stuck with our plan of playing our rookies and getting them the most experience possible.”
The Texas captains told us that their biggest concern after the end of the game was getting their offense back on track. They said that the team’s inability to move the disc was causing plenty of problems and they were looking forward to doing their best to fix those problems.