1978 Clemson-Maryland football game

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The 1978 meeting between the football teams of the Clemson Tigers and the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, Maryland on November 18, was one of the most exciting matches in Clemson gridiron history, and resulted directly in the Tigers' invitation to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on December 29 with fateful outcomes for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and their head coach, Woody Hayes.

The eleventh-ranked Terrapins (9-2), coached by Jerry Claiborne, hosted the twelfth-ranked Tigers (9-1), under the direction of Charlie Pell, on a clear, sunny autumn afternoon in Byrd Stadium, College Park. The entire Clemson Tiger Band had made the roadtrip north for the match, and the Central Spirit Committee hired a skywriter to spell out "Clemson" over the field during the game.

Both teams battled for control in the first half of the game, and were heading into halftime with a 7-7 tie until Terp special team member Mike Carney recovered a blocked Clemson punt for a Maryland touchdown. In the third quarter, the Tigers tied the game on an 87-yard touchdown pass from Steve Fuller (8-17, 216 yds.) to wide receiver Jerry Butler, capping a 98-yard drive.

In the fourth quarter, Maryland responded quickly as tailback Steve Atkins scored, going 98 yards and shaking off two tackles to set an ACC touchdown run record. Fuller and company came right back, with the quarterback sending a missile to wide receiver Dwight Clark for a 62-yard touchdown, tieing the game at 21-21. By this point, it had become apparent to fans that the two teams were evenly matched, and that it was anybody's game.

Maryland then had to settle for a fieldgoal to push ahead, 21-24. On the next series, the Tigers forced the Terrapins to punt and took over on their own 30-yard line. In a ten-play drive, Clemson pushed downfield with tailback Lester Brown scoring the go-ahead and winning touchdown running play. Immediately following the 28-24 victory, it was confirmed that the Tigers had accepted a return bid to the 34th annual Gator Bowl to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. All the Tiger Band buses departed the stadium parking lot with destination signs reading "Jacksonville". But that's another story.


  • Boyles, Bob, and Guido, Paul, "The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia", Sideline Communications, Inc., Skyhorse Publishing, New York, 2008, page 356, ISBN 1-60239-331-1

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