Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields took a brutal hit in the second quarter of Friday night’s College Football Playoff semifinal, and it led to an ejection for one of Clemson’s top defensive players.
Fields, on a third-and-13 play from the Clemson 19, took off and ran after initially seeing no open receivers. As he approached the line to gain, Fields was leveled by Clemson linebacker James Skalski.
Fields stayed down on the turf for a bit before slowly making his way off the field. And while Fields was down, the play was reviewed for targeting.
Skalski didn’t hit Fields in the head or neck area, but he lowered the crown of his helmet and was ejected for a targeting foul. It’s the second straight CFP game where Skalski has been ejected for targeting. He was tossed from last year’s national title game loss to LSU as well.
“No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown of his helmet. The crown of the helmet is the portion of the helmet above the level of the top of the facemask,” the NCAA rulebook states.
Additionally, one of the “indicators” of targeting is “lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.”
The penalty on Skalski gave Ohio State an automatic first down. C.J. Stroud, Fields’ backup, came in for one play and handed it off to running back Trey Sermon for a short gain.
Fields returned to the ballgame on second-and-goal and delivered a nine-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave to extend Ohio State’s lead to 28-14 with 5:12 remaining in the first half.
After throwing the touchdown, Fields was in noticeable pain as he returned to the sideline. He was holding his rib area, which is where he took the contact from Skalski.
Following the drive, Fields went into the medical tent to be evaluated by Clemson’s doctors. He returned to the game later in the half.
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