Once again, the Tigers started off a little slow offensively and the defense gave up a couple of big plays, but fear not Tiger fans...for the first time in a long time, Clemson is a second half team. The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) scored 35 points in an explosive third quarter.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd recorded six touchdowns - five passes to five different receivers and one rushing - tying a school record. Receiver Nuk Hopkins had a breakout game with nine catches for 157 yards.
Clemson had a 17-10 second quarter lead highlighted by long touchdown passes to Hopkins and freshman Martavis Bryant. Late in the first half, with Clemson clinging to a 17-10 lead, Tar Heel quarterback Bryn Renner’s pass was tipped in the air by Brown, and after juggling the ball, Brown gained control and took it 20 yards for score, giving Clemson a 24-10 halftime lead. They led 24-17 at the half.
Clemson took the opening possession of the second half down the field and after a reviewed touchdown, Boyd stuck it in the end zone behind his powerful offensive line. On the ensuing kickoff, North Carolina fumbled the ball and the Tigers took over inside the 15-yard line. Two plays later, Boyd threw one of the prettiest passes I have seen all season- a back shoulder throw to tight end Brandon Ford - accounting for the Tigers’ 38-17 lead.
On Clemson’s next kickoff, Heels' return man T.J. Thorpe raced 100 yards up the field for a touchdown, the first for a Dabo Swinney coached team. But, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to make up for it as Boyd hit freshman phenom Sammy Watkins for a 42-yard touchdown that made it 45-24. On the Tigers’ next possession, they marched methodically down field on an 11-play drive that ended with a nine-yard Dwayne Allen touchdown reception. Kourtnei Brown would strike again and took a fumble in for another score.
After being up by such a large margin, some younger Tigers were able to gain some experience, which Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said was an important learning tool.
“Our plan was to spread it around today, and we did that,” Swinney said. “North Carolina has a good defensive front. We knew we were going to have to throw against them and win the outside matchups. We missed some big plays in the first half, but I’m proud of our wide receivers and Dwayne Allen. Tajh [Boyd] was fantastic. To throw a touchdown to five different guys – that’s hard to do. Sammy [Watkins] had a good day today. [Andre] Ellington got banged up a little but he’ll be ok. That gave D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy a chance to play. We were bad on first down early, but that was something we made a good change on during halftime. We took care of the ball today. A lot of guys got to play and that gives us a lot of guys to coach.”
Post written by Clemson Girl sports blogger, Nikki Steele.