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Due to the recent spells of bad weather and a number of logistical and team issues, the ACRL has gotten off to a disjointed start this season. Things are picking up, however, as Clemson picked up a pair of wins and North Carolina State defeated Wake Forest 53-6.
Clemson defeated Maryland 30-8 on Friday night and defeated UVA 24-11 on Sunday.
It was a rare nine PM home start for the match on Friday, and for Clemson they were a little slow out of the gate. Maryland put the first points of the Friday night game with a penalty. Clemson responded with three tries and penalty, however, and went up 20-8 into the break.
“They played really good defense and we struggled a little bit at the beginning but once we started rolling it started to go well for us,” said Clemson captain Ryan Gilroy.
Jason Damn scored a pair of the first half tries, one off of a scrum and one of a lineout. The All-American has been a force for the Tigers and Gilroy indicated that he has been an absolute force this season.
“Jason is always one of our most solid players but yesterday he really that showed that he can take advantage when teams can’t tackle him. He was all over the field, at a lot of rucks and on offense he was ball hungry and he was over the line a bunch of times,” said Gilroy.
The Tigers added a penalty and a try in the second half and held Terps off the scoreboard. Clemson played tremendous defense and according to Gilroy that was difference in the match.
“Our defense worked really well. We came up together and we made all our tackles,” added Gilroy. “I think that is really what got us that game yesterday.”
On Sunday, Clemson showed its depth by playing a younger more inexperienced side against Virginia. The Cavaliers jumped out to an early 8-0. Clemson responded by earning a penalty try but a penalty extended UVA’s lead to 11-7. Midway through the second half, Clemson was able to muster three tries and ultimately took the match 24-11.
Clemson remains undefeated but there is still a lot of play left in the ACRL. Virginia Tech has a number of games cancelled due to weather and forfeits, and has not played in three weeks.
Former Virginia Tech standout, who played as recently with the squad in the 2015 CRC, Paul Caron, has taken over the reigns at Virginia Tech and has been frustrated with the inconsistent schedule. The Hokies have only played one conference game, a win early in the season over UNC.
“We have been stagnant for three weeks now. We are training as if we are going to play every weekend,” said Caron.
Right now Virginia Tech’s only option is to play double headers the next to weekends. For any team, that is a tough ask.
“In our minds it is really tough to travel 10 hours on a Sunday after having played that Saturday or Friday night. We are trying to figure a weekday game against either Maryland or NC State but it’s been tough.”
The table is starting to shake out and with a number of marquee matchups in the coming weeks, the conference is one to watch.