CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- With a little "Thunder" and
"Lightning," Clemson showed who's tops in the Atlantic Coast
Since a season-opening loss to Notre Dame on national television, Georgia Tech has done two things: win five straight and climb back into the AP top 15. Much of the Jackets' recent success can be attributed to the play of star wide receiver Calvin Johnson. With eight of the team's 10 receiving touchdowns entering Saturday, Johnson has been quarterback Reggie Ball's go-to playmaker. On Saturday, the 6-5 junior was nowhere to be found, as he failed to record a catch for the first time in his career. Take a look at Johnson's season stats and see if you can figure out why Tech was only able to muster seven points against Clemson.
First 3 games
Next 3 games
Behind James "Thunder" Davis, C.J. "Lightning" Spiller and a
defense that held Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson without a catch
for the first time in his career, the 12th-ranked Tigers got a
surprisingly easy 31-7 victory over the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets
The powerful Davis rushed for a career high 216 yards and two
touchdowns. The quick, elusive Spiller had a 50-yard touchdown run
and a 50-yard TD catch. And the Tigers defense made sure they
didn't hear Johnson's name very much in the game after hearing it
all week long at practice.
"If I had a nickel for every time they said, 'Calvin Johnson,'
I'd have a lot of money in my pocket," Clemson linebacker Antonio
Davis and Spiller proved that some of the league's best
offensive stars are in Clemson's backfield.
Davis, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rusher, got the
Tigers (7-1, 4-1 ACC) scoring started with a 2-yard TD run and
finished with his seventh career 100-yard rushing game. Spiller
added a 50-yard scoring run in the third quarter and answered the
Yellow Jackets' (5-2, 3-1) only score with a 50-yard catch and run
to help Clemson to its sixth straight victory.
Davis is an Atlanta native who talked quite a bit this week
about having a big game against his hometown school. "I wanted
this one a lot," he said. "I thought about it all the time."
He gained 66 of Clemson's 71 yards on its first TD drive, ending
things with a 2-yard scoring run. In the second half with Clemson
ahead 10-0, Davis opened the series with a 22-yard run and Spiller
finished it a play later with the first of his two 50-yard scores.
"It's a pretty good feeling to have running backs like James
Davis and C.J. Spiller," Clemson offensive lineman Barry
Richardson said. "Whey you have two backs making plays like they
did tonight, it makes us tough to beat."
When it was over, Davis told everyone still watching about
Clemson's "Thunder" and "Lightning" pairing. "How's that
sound?" he said. "Can't we get a little hype on that?"
The Georgia Tech-Clemson rivalry has typically been one of the
league's most exciting with nine of the games since 1996 decided by
five points or less.
Davis, Spiller and the Tigers' D turned this one into a runaway.
The Tigers clamped down on Johnson, who came in leading the
conference with 35 catches for 559 yards, yet was never much of a
factor in the showdown between the ACC's highest-ranked teams.
Johnson made a name for himself as a freshman at Death Valley
two years ago, catching three touchdown passes including the
game-winner in the final moments of the Yellow Jackets' 28-24
victory. He entered this one with three straight 100-yard receiving
games, all Tech victories, and looked like he would again wreak
havoc on the Tigers when he drew a pass interference penalty on
Tech's first play.
But that was it. Johnson didn't catch either ball thrown to him
in the second half.
Johnson did not talk to reporters after the game. "We just
didn't make plays and they did. That's all it is," Georgia Tech
quarterback Reggie Ball said several times.
Georgia Tech closed to 17-7 in the fourth quarter when its other
receiving Johnson, James, hauled in a 35-yard pass off Clemson
defender Crezdon Butler with 13:31 left.
Spiller, a freshman, ended all thoughts of a comeback when he
took Will Proctor's flip pass, stopped to let the defenders slide
past and headed down the right sideline for the score and a 24-7
Davis finished the scoring, setting up his own 5-yard touchdown
with a 54-yard run. Davis has 16 touchdowns this season, two shy of
Travis Zachery's school record set in 2000.
Spiller had 116 yards, his third game with more than 100 yards
Clemson outgained Georgia Tech 426 yards to 205.
It was just the second-ever matchup of teams ranked in the top
13 at Death Valley, and the Tigers took advantage. Clemson fans
filled Bowman Field 10 hours before kickoff, then the Tigers came
out after warmups in all-purple uniforms -- a color scheme school
officials said hadn't been used in the "modern era" of football.
The Tigers had their first-half struggles. Proctor was
intercepted by Djay Jones to end Clemson's opening possession and a
second-quarter drive ended on Tyler Grisham's fumble.
The only sign of offensive life was Davis' touchdown drive. The
sophomore gained 66 of the Tigers 71 yards on the series, ending
things in the end zone with a 2-yard scoring run.
Davis spent the rest of the half on the sidelines, slowed by a
hard hit on the drive that caused his shoulder pads to need an
adjustment. He sat on a back bench with his gear off as trainers
took the pads back to the locker room.
Georgia Tech tried to get Calvin Johnson involved in several
ways. He took a pitch on Clemson's 19 and lost four yards in a
drive that ended with a missed field goal.