CLEMSON, SC - What a game! The Tigers finally win the turnover margin and blow out an ACC team. The freshmen were the stars today! They had 4 INT's and 2 TD catches, including several one-handed and diving catches! The Tigers have 4 pick-sixes this season, all by different players. Clemson and Tech will not play next season for the first time in 42 years, and the Tigers will take a 9-game win streak over the Jackets into the hiatus. The Tigers finally went a game without fumbling! Cade threw an interception, but the Tigers won the turnover margin in back-to-back games for the first time this season, and it's plain to see how hard they are to beat when they do that. They would be 10-0 if they just broke even in every game! Today was Veterns' Day as well as Military Appreciation Day and as always, it was a stirring and emotional Clemson tribute in Memorial Stadium with the players and fans donning regalia. Freshman TJ Parker, whose father is an Army Sergeant, had the honor of running the American flag down The Hill, and that must have been a good omen for the freshman class!
The Tigers' offense started slow, going 3 and out on the first couple possessions. The defense forced a 3 and out but dodged a bullet on 3rd & 2. Wiggins was beat deep, but the ball was overthrown by King. The defense forced another quick punt on the next Tech possession, but Dabo decided before the game to be super aggressive and called a fake punt on 4th and 9 from his own 26--something I don't think he's ever done before. Dabo said after the game that Swanson should have punted based on Tech's coverage, but he tried to run for the first down and was tackled short, setting Tech up with a short field. The Jackets took advantage of the field position. After a sack by Woodaz made it 3rd and goal at the 4, King stretched across the goal line on a QB sneak to give Tech a 7-0 lead. The Tigers responded on the next possession, driving 75 yards to tie the game. They had to convert 3 times on 3rd down, including a 3rd & 13, and a 4th & 7 to keep the drive alive. Collins had 3 big catches on the drive, including a 20-yarder on 4th down and a one-handed touchdown catch early in the 2nd quarter.
The defense complemented the offense with another 3 and out thanks to a sack by Trotter for a 9-yard loss. The offense kept the momentum going, converting another 4th down en route to a touchdown. On 4th & 4, Bringingstool fought and broke a couple tackles after the catch to get to the first down marker. Riley called a reverse flea-flicker that went 19 yards. They ran the same play to Davis Allen for a touchdown last season at FSU, and the play was supposed to go to Briningstool, but Cade checked it down to Mafah, and it paid off. On 3rd & 2, freshman Tyler Brown made one of the best catches you'll ever see, a one-hander falling backwards ala OBJ. That sent the sideline and the crowd into a frenzy! It was Brown's 4th TD catch of the season to lead all receivers.
Wiggins was beat deep for the second time, but he dove at the last second and either got a piece of the ball or distracted the receiver enough to make him drop it. The defense forced another punt, and the offense went back to work, going for a 4th down on the 4th consecutive possession and converting for the 3rd straight time. Shipley ran 9 yards on 4th & one and followed that with an amazing 32-yard TD run, diving for the pylon on the sideline and sending the crowd into a frenzy again. That made it a 21-7 game with 3 unanswered touchdowns, and the rout was on. You could tell that Shipley was on a mission after missing the Notre Dame game with a concussion at NC State that probably cost them the game. I'm sure he heard all of the fans saying that Mafah had more yards per carry and should get more carries, and, while Shipley and Mafah are the closest of friends, I'm sure the fans' short memories didn't sit well with him. I told Dabo on Wednesday that I wouldn't count Ship out, and Dabo said he would never count that guy out. Dabo said he expected Shipley to do something special on Saturday to remind the fans what kind of a player he is, and Ship did just that! He and Mafah both had over 100 all-purpose yards in the game.
The defense forced another 3 and out with a 3rd down interception by true freshman Khalil Barnes. Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to cash in on the turnover to finish the half. With the clock running out, Weitz came out to attempt a 47-yard field goal on 2nd down. Just like the NC State game, Weitz made his first attempt, but Tech called a timeout to ice him, and just like NC State, the ploy worked and Weitz's low kick was blocked to end the half.
The Tigers received the ball first to start the 2nd half but were unable to win the middle eight, as their drive to the Tech 41 stalled on 3rd & 11. However, the defense forced another 3 and out, and the offense once again played complementary football with a touchdown. On 3rd & 5, Cade threaded the needle with a dart to Bringing stool in the end zone between 4 defenders. Cade has made some super costly mistakes and poor decisions in the red zone in his young career, and there's a fine line between taking chances and making great plays, but Cade hasn't lost any confidence in his ability to rip the ball into a tight window! It was also a great catch by Briningstool, who had already made a couple big first down conversions in the game.
With a 28-7 lead, the defense forced yet another 3 and out with a sack by Capehart, who has really taken his game to another level. Cade threw an interception on 1st down, but freshman Avieon Terrell, in his second straight start at corner, made an incredible one-handed INT that had to make his big brother, AJ, proud! Terrell also showcased his vertical earlier in the game, leaping high in the air to deflect a pass on 3rd &12. Again, it was an incredible game for the freshmen across the board, and Ray Ray McCloud's brother, Kobe, also had a nice tackle-for-loss in the open field. The future is very bright for the Tigers!
The Tigers were unable to cash in on the turnover this time, as Briningstool dropped a short pass on 3rd & one. Dabo finally decided to punt on 4th and one at the Tech 43 with a big lead. Freshman Peter Woods ended the quarter with a TFL to make it 2nd & 11 at the Tech 12. On the first play of the 4th quarter, freshman Kylon Griffin intercepted King for his second pick in as many games. What a way to start the 4th! The offense cashed it in with a great touchdown catch by freshman TE Josh Sapp to make it 35-7.
On the ensuing possession, a desperate Brent Key took a page from Dabo's book and ran a fake punt on 4th & 7 on his own 28 yard line. The Tigers were ready for it because they saw that it was a wide receiver, not the punter, taking the snap. However, Tech made a tough throw and catch to barely pick up the first down. It didn't matter because shortly after that, freshman Shelton Lewis broke on a pass for a pick-six in his first career start! It was the 4th INT of the game by 4 different freshmen! That gave the Tigers 42 unanswered points to make it 42-7. With that, Dabo brought in the backups, and the subs gave up a 75-yard touchdown drive for Tech's first score since the opening quarter to make it 42-14. Hunter Helms came in at quarterback and scrambled 16 yards on 3rd & 13, Domonique "Quadzilla" Thomas made a couple nice runs on the drive, but Helms was unable to convert a 4th & 6 at the Tech 33. Helms was pressured and did a good job to at lest throw the ball away and save some field position.
The backups gave up their second consecutive touchdown drive, this time for 67 yards, but Tech was helped out by the refs on a terrible pass interference call on 4th & 5, which should have been a turnover on downs. Freshman Shelton Lewis, who had the pick-six in his first career start, did not even touch the receiver, not to mention that the ball was completely uncatchable. Michael Jordan couldn't have jumped high enough to catch that! It's just a shame that the stats were skewed in the 4th quarter with the backups in because the starters held the nation's No.14 offense to about 112 total yards and 7 points through 3 plus quarters! Tech had just 2 completions for one yard in the first quarter and 64 passing yards in the 4th quarter! The defense also sacked King 3 times in the first half, and he had only been sacked 8 times all season.
With the score 42-21, freshman QB Christopher Vizzina got in the game, and the Tigers ran out the clock at the Tech 31 after a 14-yard run by freshman Keith Adams, Jr. It was great to see the Tigers finally blow out a good ACC opponent and win the turnover margin convincingly. It was also exciting to see so many freshman making huge plays left and right. Success begets success, and this kind of performance vindicates all of the Tigers' hard work and belief in each other through all the adversity this season, and it's contagious! The Tigers have won 9 straight over their I-85 border rivals and won't play them next season unless it's in the ACC Championship. The Tigers have some great momentum going into another big game next week against a ranked UNC team on Senior Day at 3:30! TE Sage Ennis was the only player seriously injured in the game, although Shipley took another egregious helmet-to-helmet blow to the back of the head that was missed by the refs. We'll get an update on Ennis during our Sunday evening Zoom call with Dabo.
In the meantime, post-game interviews, highlights and notes are below!
WITH THE WIN...
Clemson earned its 36th all-time victory against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is one of eight schools against whom Clemson has earned at least 30 all-time victories (South Carolina, Wake Forest, NC State, Furman, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech).
Clemson won its ninth consecutive game against Georgia Tech, dating to a 43-24 home win in 2015. It extended Clemson’s longest winning streak in the all-time series and more than doubled its second-longest winning streaks in series history (four-game winning streaks across the 1898-1903 seasons and the 1993-96 campaigns).
Clemson won its eighth straight home contest against Georgia Tech, dating back to 2010. It added to Clemson’s existing longest home winning streak in the series history.
Clemson recorded its 18th all-time home win against Georgia Tech.
Dabo Swinney improved to 12-5 all-time against Georgia Tech, including postseason play. Georgia Tech is one of five schools against which Swinney has recorded double-digit victories (Boston College, 14; Wake Forest, 14; NC State, 11; Syracuse, 10).
Clemson improved to 162-73-3 all-time (and 45-7 since 2011) when facing a coach for the first time.
Clemson improved to 7-2 since 1974 in games against Georgia Tech coaches facing Clemson for the first time. The victory against Brent Key joins Clemson defeats of Yellow Jacket head coaches Pepper Rodgers, Bill Curry, Bobby Ross, George O’Leary, Chan Gailey and Geoff Collins in their first meetings with the Tigers.
Clemson improved to 129-18 against AP-unranked teams under Dabo Swinney and improved to 106-8 in those games since the start of the 2012 season.
Clemson improved to 92-12 in regular season play since the start of the 2015 season. Ten of Clemson’s 12 regular season losses in that span have been decided by a final margin of 10 or fewer points.
Clemson improved to 64-3 at Death Valley in the College Football Playoff era, matching Alabama for the best home record in the nation in that span.
Clemson has won 23 of its last 26 November games.
Clemson improved to 37-1 since 2015 when intercepting multiple passes in a game.
Clemson now has a 128-8 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
Clemson now has a 75-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
Clemson improved to 79-3 when rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson is now 60-1 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney. Overall, Clemson is 110-1 in program history when reaching those marks.
Clemson has now won 111 of its last 112 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).
Clemson is now 67-2 since 2015 — and 4-0 this season — when outscoring opponents in the “Middle Eight,” defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Clemson outscored Georgia Tech, 7-0, in that time window.
Clemson has now won 112 of its last 117 games when leading at halftime.
Clemson improved to 133-4 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson won the turnover margin, 4-1. Clemson is 4-0 this season when winning the turnover margin and 89-6 overall under Dabo Swinney when doing so.
Clemson finished plus-three in the margin for the first time since Sept. 16 against Florida Atlantic. Clemson improved to 21-0 under Dabo Swinney when finishing plus-three or better in the turnover margin.
Clemson has now produced multiple takeaways in back-to-back games for the first time since last year's games against South Carolina and North Carolina.
Clemson has now recorded at least three takeaways in consecutive games for the first time since 2020 against Pitt and Virginia Tech. Clemson is 53-1 under Dabo Swinney when recording three or more takeaways with the only loss coming in the 2008 Sun Bowl against Nebraska.
Clemson’s four interceptions matched the program’s high under Dabo Swinney. It was Clemson’s sixth four-interception game of his tenure and its first since 2020 against Pitt.
Clemson is now 25-0 under Swinney when recording three or more interceptions and 109-13 when doing so since 1954.
Clemson held Georgia Tech to 254 yards, 142 of which came on the Yellow Jackets’ final two drives of the game. Georgia Tech entered the week ranked 14th in the nation in total offense (465.3 yards per game).
Clemson recorded 465 yards of offense. It was Clemson’s 88th 400-yard game since 2015, third-most in the nation.
Clemson’s 260 rushing yards were its second-most of the season and its most since a 274-yard day against Charleston Southern in early September.
Clemson exceeded 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in a single game for the third time this season and for the 62nd time in Dabo Swinney’s tenure. Conversely, Georgia Tech had entered the game averaging 200/200 this season before being held to 137 passing yards and 117 rushing yards on Saturday.
Clemson has now held six straight opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards for the first time since a 10-game streak in 2019.
Clemson’s 27 games with 200 or more rushing yards and 200 or more passing yards since 2018 are the fourth-most in the country. Clemson is now 60-1 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney. Overall, Clemson is 110-1-1 in program history when reaching those marks.
Clemson converted four-of-six fourth downs. It was Clemson’s second-most fourth-down conversions on record in the Dabo Swinney era, one shy of its five against UConn in 2021.
Quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 23-of-34 passes for 205 yards and a career-high tying four touchdown passes.
Klubnik recorded his third passing performance of the season and of his career with at least three passing touchdowns. He had four passing touchdowns against Charleston Southern on Sept. 9 and three against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 16.
Klubnik’s 67.6 percent completion percentage was the second-best of his career against an ACC opponent (min. 5 att.), trailing only his 83.3 percent performance as ACC Championship Game MVP against North Carolina last December.
Wide receiver Beaux Collins caught five passes for 65 yards with a touchdown.
Clemson scored its first points of the game on a five-yard pass from Klubnik to Collins in the second quarter.
Collins’ touchdownwas his third of the season and the 11th of his career.
The touchdown pass to Collins was the culmination of an 18-play, 75-yard drive that lasted 9:51, Clemson’s longest drive this season both by number of plays and time possessed.
The drive lasting 9:51 of game time was Clemson’s longest scoring drive in school history and its second-longest drive overall, trailing only its 10:02 drive to run out the clock against Alabama in the National Championship Game to end the 2018 season.
The 18-play drive was Clemson’s longest in terms of total plays since its final drive of its Sugar Bowl game against Alabama to end the 2017 season.
The drive included two fourth-down conversions. It was Clemson’s first time converting two fourth downs in a single drive since 2021 against UConn.
Wide receiver Tyler Brown added a team-high seven receptions for 41 yards with a touchdown.
Brown caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season on a highlight-reel one-handed grab in the second quarter.
Brown has now caught a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
Brown became the first Clemson freshman with a touchdown catch in consecutive games since Beaux Collins' three-game streak late in the 2021 season.
On his seventh reception of the game, Brown (40) became the sixth Clemson player since 2010 to record 40 receptions in a freshman season, joining Antonio Williams (56 in 2022), Justyn Ross (46 in 2018), Artavis Scott (76 in 2014), Sammy Watkins (82 in 2011) and DeAndre Hopkins (52 in 2010).
Running back Will Shipley rushed 11 times for 77 yards with a touchdown and added three receptions for 30 receiving yards.
During the contest, Shipley (2,512) passed Ray Yauger (2,439 from 1968-70) for 12th in Clemson history in career rushing yardage.
Shipley (2,512) also became the 13th player in Clemson history to reach 2,500 career rushing yards.
On a 32-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Shipley became the 11th active FBS player to reach 30 career rushing touchdowns.
Shipley’s 32-yard scoring scamper finished a 92-yard drive, Clemson’s longest drive by yardage this season.
Shipley (30) became the eighth player in school history to rush for 30 career touchdowns, joining Travis Etienne, James Davis, Travis Zachery, Wayne Gallman, Andre Ellington, C.J. Spiller and Lester Brown.
With the 32nd total touchdown of his career, Shipley tied Lester Brown (32 from 1976-79) for the seventh-most career total touchdowns in Clemson history.
Clemson has now rushed for a touchdown in 52 consecutive home games, the nation's longest active streak. The last team to hold Clemson without a rushing touchdown in Death Valley was Troy in 2016.
Clemson has now scored at least one rushing touchdown in a national-best 76 of its 79 games since the start of the 2018 season.
Tight end Jake Briningstool recorded his career-high-tying fourth touchdown reception of the season on a five-yard pass from Klubnik in the third quarter.
The touchdown reception was Briningstool’s ninth of his career, matching K.D. Dunn (nine from 1981-84) for seventh-most by a tight end in Clemson history.
Tight end Josh Sapp recorded his second touchdown reception of the season on a 13-yard pass from Klubnik in the fourth quarter.
Running back Phil Mafah led Clemson in rushing yards with 96 on 17 carries. He also added a 19-yard reception.
Both Shipley (107) and Mafah (115) reached 100 yards from scrimmage in the contest.
Clemson recorded four sacks, one shy of its season high. Georgia Tech entered the game having allowed only eight sacks in nine games this season.
Clemson had 10 different players contribute to its season-high 11 tackles for loss.
Defensive end Justin Mascoll returned to action after missing the last two games. In the first quarter, he recorded his first sack of the season, the third of his career.
Linebacker Wade Woodaz added to his single-season career high in sacks with his fourth of the season in the first quarter.
Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. recorded the 12th sack of his career in the second quarter. He has now recorded at least one full sack in back-to-back games for the first time this season and the first time since a three-game streak against Miami (Fla.), South Carolina and North Carolina in 2022.
Defensive tackle DeMonte Capehart recorded his first sack of the season in the third quarter. It was the second of his career and his first since 2020 against The Citadel.
Safety Khalil Barnes recorded his second interception of the season late in the second quarter. It was his first since Sept. 16 against Florida Atlantic.
Barnes became the first Clemson freshman to record multiple interceptions in a season since safety Jayron Kearse in 2013 (four).
Cornerback Avieon Terrell recorded his first career interception in the third quarter, snuffing out a Georgia Tech drive that followed an interception thrown by Clemson.
Now with two forced fumbles and two interceptions on the season, Barnes became the first Clemson player in the Dabo Swinney to record multiple forced fumble and multiple interceptions in a freshman season.
Safety Kylon Griffin recorded his second career interception — and his second in as many weeks — in the fourth quarter.
Griffin has now recorded a pick in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. It is the second time this season a Clemson player has recorded an interception in consecutive games, joining Wade Woodaz against Charleston Southern and Florida Atlantic.
Cornerback Shelton Lewis recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
The pick-six by Lewis was Clemson’s fourth interception return touchdown this season, tying the school record of four set in 1990.
All four of Clemson’s interceptions were recorded by interceptions, three by true freshmen (Barnes, Terrell and Lewis) and one by a redshirt freshman (Griffin). It was the first time since Clemson’s 2013 game against Virginia that multiple Clemson freshmen had an interception in a single game (Korrin Wiggins and Jayron Kearse).
Defensive tackle Tyler Davis made his 49th career start to tie offensive linemen Landon Walker and Dalton Freeman (49 each) for the fifth-most career starts in Clemson history.
Clemson faced Georgia Tech Head Coach Brent Key for the first time. Key became the first interim coach at an ACC institution elevated to a full-time head coaching role since Dabo Swinney accomplished the feat at Clemson in December 2008.
Captains for the contest were running back Phil Mafah, wide receiver Brannon Spector and defensive end Xavier Thomas.
Prior to the contest, Clemson wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. sang the national anthem on Military Appreciation Day. Defensive end T.J. Parker carried the American flag down the Hill in honor of his father, Sgt. Tommy Parker, an 11-year U.S. Army veteran.