Clemson linebacker Skalski ejected for hit on Fields

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Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields runs past Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Clemson starting middle linebacker James Skalski has been ejected from the Sugar Bowl for a tackle that knocked Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields out of the game for one play.

Officials concluded that Skalski committed targeting by leading with the crown of his helmet when he hit Fields in the ribs. Fields remained down on the field a couple minutes before walking to the sideline.

The personal foul put the Buckeyes on the Clemson 9-yard line. Two plays later, Fields returned and hit Chris Olave for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 28-14 lead with 5:12 remaining in the first half. But Fields still appeared to be in pain and he skipped directly — and awkwardly — to the sideline favoring his right side rather than celebrating the scoring pass with teammates.

After that touchdown, Fields was 12 of 13 for 173 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Skalski is one of Clemson’s defensive leaders. He entered the Sugar Bowl with 39 tackles, including 3 1/2 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in eight games. He missed Clemson’s first meeting with Notre Dame this season, won by the Irish, because of an injury. But he played in the rematch in the ACC championship game and had a sack among five solo or assisted tackles.

He was in on three tackles in the first half against Ohio State before his ejection.

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