The month of November has gone quite well for the Clemson Tigers. After a disappointing road trip finished with losses to Miami and NC State and left Clemson buried at 4-4, the Tigers have responded to adversity with the best two performances of the season. They handled Notre Dame and followed it up with a dominant victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After falling behind 7-0, the defense turned up the heat and Clemson rattled off 42 straight points before removing the starters and cruising to a 42-21 win. The win brings Clemson to bowl eligibility for the 25th straight season and continued to show the potential of this young roster.
Fake Punt Leads to GT Touchdown
Georgia Tech and Clemson traded unsuccessful offensive possessions with the Yellow Jackets punting twice and Clemson punting once. Aidan Swanson lined up for his second punt of the day before attempting to scramble for a first down deep in Clemson territory. Predictably, it did not go well. Georgia Tech easily stopped the attempt and took over at the 25-yard line. Four plays later, Haynes King dove into the end zone to give Georgia Tech a 7-0 lead.
Clemson Methodically Responds
Drives consisting of 18 plays are rare, particularly for a team that has struggled to avoid turning the ball over. Clemson answered the Georgia Tech score by using 18 plays, including a pair of fourth-down conversions, to drive 75 yards and tied the game. Cade Klubnik completed a pass for five yards to Beaux Collins for the score. Credit to Collins for a really nice catch despite good coverage from Georgia Tech.
The Clemson defense drove Georgia Tech back 13 yards with a sack and a tackle for loss, forced a punt that Hamp Greene returned to the Georgia Tech 42-yard line and the offense gave Clemson the lead with an eight-play scoring drive. Again, the much-maligned Clemson wideouts deserve some credit as Tyler Brown made a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone on third and short. The momentum was firmly in Clemson’s corner.
Adding To The Lead
Clemson’s defense again forced a quick punt from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The running game for Tech was not working and Haynes King was completely overwhelmed by the pass rush. Clemson began at the eight-yard line and took a two-score lead with a 92-yard drive that took only nine plays. Cade Klubnik spread the ball around to Tyler Brown, Adam Randall, and Beaux Collins and Will Shipley exploded for a 32-yard touchdown run to put Clemson ahead 21-7 before the end of the half. Clemson got the ball back Jonathan Weitz missed a field goal as the half expired.
Clemson held Georgia Tech to 51 yards in the first quarter and 38 yards in the second quarter. It was a dominant performance only marred by the special teams mistake (or very weird decision, depending on your outlook).
Going In For the Kill
After both teams were forced to punt, Clemson took over with good field position (their own 48-yard line) and added to the lead. Jake Briningstool caught a pass to get the drive going and Phil Mafah had a 17-yard run before Klubnik threw his third touchdown of the day, this one to Jake Briningstool from five yards out.
With Clemson leading 28-7, the Tigers defense put any doubt to rest. Avieon Terrell made a brilliant play to pick off a pass by Haynes King and then Kylon Griffin had pick number two of King after great pressure by Demonte Capehart. Seeing young players all over the field getting lots of snaps and stepping up with big plays is a sight to behold. Performances like this from so many freshmen and sophomores give validation to Dabo Swinney’s “buy all the Clemson stock” comment. The Griffin interception gave Clemson the ball on the Georgia Tech 31-yard line and the Tigers scored in five plays. This time, it was Josh Sapp catching Klubnik’s fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon. Sapp, another freshman (albeit, a redshirt one) was in for the injured Sage Ennis. He’ll be asked to do a lot more as Ennis is out for the rest of the year. Clemson led 35-7 and the route was on.
Shelton Lewis Pours It On
On the next Georgia Tech possession, Haynes King’s nightmare continued. This time, it was Shelton Lewis with the interception and he scampered away for a 46-yard pick-six touchdown. Lewis, yet another talented freshman corner, read the pass well and made King pay with his fourth interception.
With the score 42-7, Dabo Swinney pulled the starters and let both Hunter Helms and Christopher Vizzina get some run. Georgia Tech scored a pair of meaningless touchdowns against the third-team defense to make the final score and stats look better than what actually occurred at Death Valley.
Clemson has another big challenge this coming Saturday as they host the North Carolina Tar Heels at 3:30.