3:30 PM ET, October 6, 2012
Memorial Stadium (Clemson, SC), Clemson, SC
Helped by Tajh Boyd, No. 15 Clemson gains 601 yards, rallies by GT
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd threw for a career high 397 yards, but both he and his coach agreed he could have played better in No. 15 Clemson's 47-31 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
"Could have been some more out there," the junior quarterback said. "Honestly, I came out too hyped. I was missing some passes, some easy throws."
But Boyd and the rest of the offense settled down, running 93 plays and gaining 601 yards. It is the fourth time the Tigers (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have gained more than 500 yards this season.
DeAndre Hopkins had 173 yards receiving on seven catches and two touchdowns, Andre Ellington ran for 82 yards on 24 carries, and Clemson ran 93 plays to just 60 for Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3), leaving offensive coordinator Chad Morris happy after a rough opening two possessions.
"The only thing that's going to stop us is ourselves," Morris said.
For all the offense, it was still a defensive play that turned the game Clemson's way. Right after Boyd threw a 35-yard touchdown to Hopkins that put the Tigers ahead 38-31 with 10:29 left in the game, Georgia Tech bobbled the kickoff and had to start from its own 2. Tigers linebacker Spencer Shuey sniffed out an option pitch two plays later for a safety that crushed the Yellow Jackets' chances. It was the first time either team led by more than a touchdown.
"We got points and the ball. That was big," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Orwin Smith was tackled for a safety. It was his only bad play -- he gained 117 yards on seven carries. Quarterback Tevin Washington, who ran 16 times for 104 yards, also missed seeing Shuey when he made the pitch. But he didn't think it cost his team the victory.
"With a game like that, there are so many little things that add up," Washington said. "It could have been something that happened in the first quarter."
Georgia Tech had a chance to get back in the game. Linebacker Daniel Drummond picked off a tipped pass with 8:32 to go. The Yellow Jackets drove to the Tigers 20, but David Scully's 37-yard field goal was blocked by Josh Watson.
"If they had had a fake on, they would have got it," Swinney said. "We really gambled and brought everybody thinking they've got to kick it, they've got to get this field goal."
The offenses were expected to dominate. Clemson came in allowing 1,087 yards in its past two games, and the Yellow Jackets had allowed 1,119 yards in their last two games.
Both teams chewed up yards. There were only two punts, with one per team. Georgia Tech couldn't even stop Clemson at the end, with Roderick McDowell running a yard for a touchdown with 50 seconds to go.
"If we take a knee right now, I was going to be disappointed," Boyd said of the last drive. "I know it's sportsmanship, but at the same time, we got down there, we've got to go get it. This is a rivalry game for us."
The rivalry has recently been slanted Georgia Tech's way. Even with the win, Swinney is 2-4 against the Yellow Jackets.
Clemson's offense hummed for the most part. The Tigers only struggled when they got close to the end zone, settling for three field goals and three touchdowns on six trips inside the Georgia Tech 6 yard line. Clemson was 13 of 19 on third down, but the three times they failed to convert were with goal to go.
Sammy Watkins, back from missing a because of a virus, caught six passes for 42 yards and ran twice for 4 yards.
Georgia Tech's 2-4 start is its worst since it went 1-10 in 1994.
"Right now we've got to play close to perfect," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. "Clearly we have to score more points."
Along with completing 26-of-41 passes, Boyd also ran for a touchdown and caught one pass -- for a 2-point conversion. The ball was snapped to running back Andre Ellington, who pitched to Hopkins, who threw the pass to Boyd. The points were critical, because Clemson would take a nine-point lead after the safety.
Boyd also set a school record for career touchdown passes with 51, beating Charlie Whitehurst's 49.
After the game, Swinney heaped praise on his quarterback, saying he does what every coach wants a player to do -- get better with every game.
"That's where he had grown the most as a football player. Last year, when he would struggle at times, he would go out and it was like, 'I've got to get it all right now.' He couldn't go to the next play. He's still ticked off about the last series," Swinney said. "But he's grown beyond that."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... A late pick gave GT a chance at a 37-yard field goal down nine, but it was blocked, essentially handing the win to Clemson.
Gameball goes to... Tajh Boyd had a career night, throwing for 397 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 63 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Stat of the game... 2-4. Georgia Tech's loss gives it a 2-4 start, its worst since 1994, when it started 1-5 and finished 1-10.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-11||13-19|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|TD||08:17||Tajh Boyd 1 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick)||0||7|
|TD||06:52||Jeff Greene 16 Yd Pass From Tevin Washington (David Scully Kick)||7||7|
|FG||03:24||Chandler Catanzaro 23 Yd||7||10|
|TD||00:50||Orwin Smith 13 Yd Run (David Scully Kick)||14||10|
|TD||12:21||Roderick McDowell 2 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick)||14||17|
|FG||08:49||Chandler Catanzaro 20 Yd||14||20|
|TD||05:04||Tevin Washington 1 Yd Run (David Scully Kick)||21||20|
|TD||03:40||DeAndre Hopkins 58 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro Kick)||21||27|
|TD||10:58||Tevin Washington 4 Yd Run (David Scully Kick)||28||27|
|FG||00:53||Chandler Catanzaro 21 Yd||28||30|
|FG||13:03||David Scully 26 Yd||31||30|
|TD||10:29||DeAndre Hopkins 35 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Deandre Hopkins Pass To Tajh Boyd For Two-Point Conversion)||31||38|
|SF||10:19||Orwin Smith Tackled By Spencer Shuey In End Zone||31||40|
|TD||00:50||Roderick McDowell 1 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick)||31||47|
Tajh Boyd threw his 50th career touchdown pass Saturday, breaking the Clemson record he shared with Charlie Whitehurst. Boyd's record-breaking scoring pass was a 58-yard connection with DeAndre Hopkins with 3:40 left in the second quarter, helping the No. 15 Tigers to a 27-21 lead over Georgia Tech. Whitehurst played for Clemson from 2002 to 2005.
ESPN Stats & Information