December 6, 2011

Clemson brings home an early Christmas present for fans

Tajh Boyd walked out of the Clemson locker room with tears in his eyes because his comeback came up a touchdown short in the December 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Fighting back tears while he talked to the media, Boyd promised Clemson fans that when the team was his to lead they would make a return trip to Charlotte in 2011 for the ACC Championship Game.

Head coach Dabo Swinney also had a message to the fans.

“If I was sitting in their shoes I would be doubting and questioning me, too,” Swinney said. “It was a tough year, but it is a new year starting tomorrow, and I have to make sure this never happens again. I’m going to do everything I can to get us better. That includes anything and everything within my power.”

Fast forward 11 months to Bank of America Stadium and both made good on their promises as the Tigers issued a 38-10 thrashing to Coastal Division champions Virginia Tech and punched their ticket to the Discover Orange Bowl.

After throwing just four touchdowns and seven interceptions in the previous four games, Boyd - the ACC Championship Game MVP - completed 20-of-29 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 34 yards and another touchdown.

The Tigers punted on the opening possession of the game, but the defense came out firing on all cylinders with freshman linebacker Stephone Anthony forcing a fumble on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.

Boyd hit tight end Dwayne Allen on the left sideline and after muscling his way through several Hokie defenders, he walked into the end zone giving Clemson the early 7-0 lead.

Virginia Tech would score its first touchdown on a long pass over the middle and the teams would swap field goals for a 10-10 tie at half time.

The Clemson defense came out strong again, stopping Virginia Tech on their first drive. Boyd and the offense marched down the field on a 10-play, 87-yard drive ending in another Dwayne Allen touchdown catch for a 17-10 Tiger lead.

Nine seconds after the defense stepped off the field, Sammy Watkins stood wide open down the right sideline and hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from Boyd giving the Tigers a 24-10 lead.

Running back Andre Ellington busted through Virginia Tech defenders for a 29-yard touchdown scurry for a 38-10 lead to begin the fourth quarter.

Hokie fans began their mass exodus after Clemson’s next possession ended with a Boyd plunge into the end zone for the final score of the night.

All of the talk has surrounded the Clemson offense, but give credit to the defense which held Virginia Tech’s ACC player of the year tailback David Wilson to just 32 yards and forced three turnovers.

Swinney said that when his team is firing on all cylinders, nobody can beat them.

“There have been a lot of walls built up around this program over the last 20 years and we knocked them down tonight,” Swinney said. “We’ve been down in the valley and the players locked arms and they charged up that hill. Our team, I could sense the confidence growing. I told them if you just put it together on offense, defense, and special teams, it won’t be close, I don’t care who we play.”

Now, it’s coach Swinney’s turn to be mad at the fans for not believing and not being ‘All In.’

“I got this job three years and two days ago and I’ve put every bit of everything I have into it to try to do this for Clemson and these player and these coaches have worked hard,” Swinney said. “When you accomplish a goal it’s a great thing, but we’re not done yet. We’ve still got a long way to go to build this program into what we want it to be. You don’t quit. There are so many quitters out there. All of those people that quit on us, they don’t deserve this. This is for the players, and the coaches, and for all of those people that were ‘All In’ all the freaking time.”

Post written by Clemson Girl sports blogger, Nikki Steele.


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