Published November 20, 2014
Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper each scored twice for Clemson in a 35-10 victory over North Texas on Saturday that showed there's life for the Tigers without ACC player of the year C.J. Spiller.
In the season opener for both teams, Ellington got things going with a 60-yard scoring run on Clemson's second snap just 16 seconds into the game. He added a 14-yard run in the third quarter.
Harper caught an 8-yard touchdown pass seconds before halftime. He ended the scoring for the Tigers with a 3-yard run.
Ellington ended with 122 yards and Harper 102, the first time Clemson's had two rushers top the century mark since its "Thunder and Lightning" combo of James Davis and Spiller accomplished it against Maryland in 2007.
North Texas has lost its past five games.
Spiller was Clemson's do-everything star a year ago and the only player in Division I to score a touchdown in each game. He finished as the ACC's leader in all-purpose yardage, was sixth in Heisman Trophy voting and has continued his stellar run as a Buffalo Bills' rookie.
It appears he left Clemson's backfield in capable hands.
Ellington showed that early when he went 60 yards on Clemson's second snap for a touchdown just 16 seconds in. He added a 14-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
Harper got his turn to shine toward the end of the first half with a 17-yard run to set up a first-and-goal situation, then ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown catch.
Harper capped his day with a 3-yard scoring run that ended the Tigers scoring.
Quarterback Kyle Parker added two touchdowns passes, including a 70-yarder to Brandon Clear.
Not everything clicked with Clemson's offense. It was outgained by North Texas 234-228 in the first 30 minutes and ran 20 plays to the Mean Green's 45.
The player who looked most like Spiller in the first half was North Texas runner Lance Dunbar. He put up 96 yards in the first half and continually eluded Tiger defenders to keep the Mean Green moving.
But Clemson tightened up after halftime and Dunbar finished with 116 yards.
Dawson Zimmer had a 79-yard punt — the second longest in school history.
Still, the Tigers showed their teeth on defense when it mattered most. A third-down sack by Malliciah Goodman ended one of North Texas' long drive and Clemson forced a pair of incomplete passes to end a second series that reached Tiger territory.
Parker's long bomb to a wide-open Clear put Clemson ahead 14-0. After North Texas' only TD on a 13-yard reception by Darius Carey — he drew a celebration penalty for pumping his fist at the dozen or so Mean Green fans in that end zone — Clemson bounced back with Harper's first score.
North Texas of the Sun Belt Conference appeared to wear out in the second half as Clemson took control.