No. 2 Clemson will be without a key defensive player as it attempts to beat No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game.
James Skalski, a fifth-year linebacker and defensive team captain, was ejected in the second quarter after lowering the crown of his helmet and delivering a shot to the back of Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields. The play caused Fields to stay down on the Superdome turf for several moments while trainers tended to him; during that time, officials reviewed the play and ejected Skalski for targeting.
Here’s the play:
Fields missed only one play after the hit; as soon as he came back in, he delivered a touchdown pass that made the score 28-14, Ohio State. He was clearly in pain after the fact, however, grimacing as he breathed while heading to the team medical tent. That didn’t stop him from producing one final touchdown drive before halftime, which gave the Buckeyes a 35-14 lead at intermission. Fields has completed 16 of 18 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns, and added seven rushes for 50 yards.
As for Skalski, this isn’t the first time he has been ejected from a College Football Playoff game. He was called for targeting in the 2020 CFP championship game against LSU to end the 2019 season.
Some good news for Tigers, however: Safety Nolan Turner, who missed the first half of the Sugar Bowl because of targeting in the ACC championship game, will return to the field following halftime.
Whether he can help slow down Fields’ onslaught, however, is another story. Ohio State will receive the second-half kickoff.
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