The first half of Monday’s Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson was a slugfest with both defenses dominating.
The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 10-3 lead against Clemson and limited the Tigers to 73 yards of total offense in the opening two quarters. Alabama was held to 182 yards by the Tigers.
Clemson had negative 7 yards in the first quarter and trailed 10-0. The Tigers went three-and-out on their first three drives of the game.
Alabama had a chance to grab control early, but Clemson’s defense was up to the challenge and kept the Crimson Tide’s points to a minimum.
Alabama’s first three drives had a starting average field position of its own 49.
The Crimson Tide were unable to take advantage of good field position on their opening drive, but Andy Pappanastos made a 24-yard field goal to get Alabama on the board on its second possession.
Alabama followed that up by putting together an eight-play, 46-yard drive that ended with Jalen Hurts finding Calvin Ridley for a 12-yard score.
But Clemson’s defense pitched a shutout the rest of the first half, aided by Pappanastos missing a 38-yard field goal just before halftime.
Clemson linebacker Tre Lamar was said to be 100 percent entering the game but was a late scratch and did not get the start.
He was replaced in the lineup by J.D. Davis, who made the first two tackles of the game and had six tackles, including a tackle for loss, in the opening two quarters.
Lamar has been out since suffering a stinger against Florida State on Nov. 11.
Clemson’s starting Mike linebacker entered the game seventh on the team in tackles with 52, despite missing three games. He also has five tackles for loss and four sacks and is arguably Clemson’s biggest hitter.
SLOW START FOR RENFROW
Tigers receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught two touchdown passes in each of the previous two games against Alabama, was held without a catch in the first half against Alabama.
Renfrow was targeted three times, including on Clemson’s first two third downs, but was unable to haul in a pass.
Clemson running back Travis Etienne left the game early in the second quarter with an apparent head injury. He spent several minutes in the injury tent.
Etienne had one carry for 3 yards and three kickoffs for a combined 52 yards before going down.
Tigers linebacker Dorian O’Daniel also missed some time in the second quarter with an injury but did return to the game.