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Clemson Overcomes Wake Forest in Overtime, 51-45

The Tigers survive a bevy of penalties at Winston-Salem to stay unbeaten.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK

First Quarter

Wake received the opening kickoff and came out hot with some quick passes, but a third-down toss to tight end Whiteheart was broken up to end the drive.

On Clemson’s first possession, Will Shipley immediately ran up the middle for a massive gain of 53 yards. A deep throw to Ngata drew a PI call to extend the drive, and Clemson was soon in the red zone. The OL then gave DJ what felt like an hour to look for a touchdown throw, which he finally threaded to Jake Briningstool after showing great patience in the pocket. Credit to the line for giving him excellent protection and time for that play to develop.

Wake’s next drive ended just short of a third-down conversion, giving Clemson the ball back quickly. After a few penalties set Clemson up in a 3rd and 21 situation, DJ made the correct read again and hit Briningstool for an easy completion. On the very next play, he then threw a 41-yard strike to Brannon Spector to start the game 7/7 with 104 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Syndication: The Greenville News
DJ started the game HOT.

Several pass interference penalties extended the Demon Deacons’ ensuing drive, which ended in a 36-yard dart to Jahmal Banks to make it 14-7.

A nice run from DJ on third down pushed the chains for yet another first down before the Wake defense finally forced the first Clemson punt of the day.

The fourth Wake possession of the quarter was a quick 3-and-out, and Clemson burned out the remaining minute of a very eventful first quarter.

Second Quarter

Although the Clemson drive stalled, a big sack from Tyler Davis iced Wake’s next possession, and the Tigers got the ball right back. A beautiful deep throw to Antonio Williams moved the Tigers all the way to the 21, where Mafah put in some tough running to make it 1st and goal.

On third down, DJ scrambled and dove for the pylon in a great effort to score but came up just short, so Dabo sent out Potter to take the nearly automatic 3 points instead.

Sam Hartman attacked Toriano Pride repeatedly on their next drive, resulting in 6 more points on his 2nd touchdown pass to Banks, making it 17-14 with just under six minutes to go in the half.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Wake Forest
Hartman was throwing well, when given time.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Another great catch from Antonio Williams on third down moved the chains for Clemson as they attempted to complete one final drive before the quarter ended; EJ Williams made his first catch of the game on a curl route to convert the next third down.

The drive broke down in the red zone, however, as Wake’s defense stiffened and was able to send some pressure DJ’s way to disrupt multiple plays. Potter collected his next field goal to end the half with Clemson up 20-14.

Third Quarter

After a punt from the Clemson offense, Wake got the ball and moved quickly down the field, connecting on yet another long TD pass, this one to Donavon Greene. The 28-yard score put the Deacons on top with their first lead of the ballgame at 21-20.

A 3-and-out sent possession right back to Wake, who continued to abuse the bedraggled Clemson secondary. Sam Hartman tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the day to Whiteheart, and Clemson was suddenly down 28-20.

Desperately needing an offensive response, DJ drove his team steadily down the field, putting several nice runs and passes together to score on a short pass to Davis Allen. On the 2-point conversion, DJ gave us maybe one of his best plays ever as he managed to connect with Beaux Collins despite having his leg completely lifted into the air by a defender.

Unfortunately, the moment was short-lived as Sam Hartman once again drove down the field and picked the Clemson corners apart for another touchdown pass to Greene.

On the next drive, DJ tossed a bomb to Ngata who hauled it in to close out this wild third quarter, down one score to Wake Forest.

Fourth Quarter

More hard running from Shipley helped Clemson march to the goal line in a must-score situation. #1 then gave a fantastic effort on his run from the 1-yard line to tie things up at 35 all.

More busts in the secondary gave Wake great field position almost immediately as the Clemson defense tried in vain to stop any of the aerial attacks. At last, they held on third down in the red zone and forced a field goal from the Demon Deacons to make it 38-35.

A speedy return from Antonio Willimas put the Tigers in excellent field position to start their next possession. A crucial sack from Wake’s Mustapha sent the Tigers back to midfield though, and it came down to a 52-yard Potter field goal attempt to tie things up.

Ice in his veins, Potter drilled it with four minutes to go.

Needing one final stop to give Clemson a chance, the Tiger defense took the field to face Hartman and the high-powered Wake offense.

After a series of short runs, Tyler Davis and Myles Murphy combined for a huge sack to force a third-and-long for the Deacons. Hartman’s throw to Whiteheart was short of the first down, so Wake opted to play for overtime and punted away, ending regulation time at 38-38.


Clemson won the toss and elected to play defense, forcing Wake to score first. On third down, they did just that via a school-record sixth touchdown pass from Sam Hartman to AT Perry.

With the game on the line, DJ then lofted a gorgeous touchdown pass to Beaux Collins to equalize the game at 45 apiece.

On the next possession, DJ came through and delivered with a second endzone throw to Allen. The mandatory 2-point conversion this time failed, however, meaning Wake could finish with their next drive.

On fourth down, Hartman’s pass to the endzone was deflected by Nate Wiggins, and Clemson survived, 51-45.

Quick Observations

The entire secondary had a terrible game, giving up SIX touchdown passes and resorting to multiple pass interference penalties to prevent even more scores. One has to wonder why Goodwin didn’t switch coverage sooner to give the secondary more help.

DJ put together his best game of the season (and possibly his entire career) showing us who he can be when he is locked in and healthy. He was poised and displayed great leadership in a high-stakes game on the road, which is exactly what you want to see from him after all the clamor of the off-season.

An awesome moment for the Bresee family as Bryan had a key deflection on that last series, happy for them.

Clutch win in overtime - hard not to feel elated after that, despite the many issues exposed today.