CLEMSON, SC - What a game! It was a weird day in Death Valley, beginning with the sudden downpour just before kickoff with the sun shining. When the two-hour lightning delay (during which I didn't see a drop of rain or hear one crack of thunder) hit with 32 seconds left in the first half, you knew it was going to be one of those games where crazy things happen, and you just hope the Tigers can overcome and survive it. They did just that, hanging on for the 14-8 win to extend the nation's longest active home win streak to 30 games. It was a sellout crowd and loud in the first half, but after the delay, only about 25,000 fans returned, so it almost felt like 2020 all over again. The fans who returned did their best to make their presence felt, but it felt like a big break for Tech, especially with a 3rd and 2 on the Tigers' 17 yard line with 32 seconds left in the first half to resume play. However, the defense was still able to get the stop and hold Tech to just a field goal, giving the Tigers a 7-3 lead at the half.
For the second time in three games, the offense struggled to score, but the defense was absolutely remarkable once again. For the third consecutive game, the Tigers did not allow a touchdown and gave up just 6 points. They are averaging 4 points allowed per game a quarter through the regular season! The defense came up with stop after stop after stop when they had to have it, including a goal-line stand with under 30 seconds left and another stop after the offense committed a safety. It all fittingly culminated with super senior Skalski playing with his hair on fire and making three season-saving tackles on the goal-line stand. He showed his speed and relentlessness in tackling the speedy receiver McGowan on the sideline for no gain at the 3-yard line. Then he was in on a tackle with Tyler Davis to stop Tech's run at the 2-yard line. Finally, on 4th and goal from the 2-yard line, Skalski single-handedly blew up the run at the line of scrimmage to force the turnover on downs and seemingly end the game with 15 seconds left. Of course, on this bizarre day, the game wouldn't end there. Will Shipley fumbled on the goal line, and it was ruled that he recovered it in the end zone, forcing a safety and giving Tech 2 points with the ball. It looked to me on replay that he was across the goal line plane, but the officials said otherwise. On one hand, the Tigers were fortunate that Tech didn't recover for a touchdown, which would allow them to tie with a 2-point conversion. On the other hand, the safety made it 14-8 and meant that Tech would have a chance to win the game, perhaps on a Hail Mary! However, the defense once again answered the bell and made two final plays to end the game and preserve the Tigers' playoff hopes.
Dabo's press conference, post-game interviews, notes and highlights are below. I'll have more in a bit!
WITH THE WIN....
Clemson won its 30th consecutive home game to extend its school record for both the longest home winning streak and longest home unbeaten streak in school history (as well as extend the nation’s longest active home winning streak). Of the 135 players on Clemson’s 2021 roster, 130 have never experienced a home loss in their Clemson careers. Five sixth-year “super seniors” on Clemson’s 2021 roster were on the 2016 team that recovered from a home loss to Pitt by winning the national championship that season.
Clemson won its 30th straight home game to record the 24th home winning streak of 30 games or more in FBS history.
Clemson tied 1928-33 Tennessee, 1952-61 Auburn and 1994-99 Florida (30 each) for the 21st-longest home winning streak in FBS history.
Clemson is now 49-1 at home in the College Football Playoff era (since 2014), adding to the nation’s best home record in that span.
Clemson earned its 34th all-time victory against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is one of 11 schools against whom Clemson has earned at least 30 all-time victories (South Carolina, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Furman, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Presbyterian and The Citadel).
Clemson won its seventh 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, nearly doubling four-game winning streaks across the 1898-1903 seasons and the 1993-96 campaigns that stood as Clemson’s previous best in the series.
Clemson won its seventh straight home contest against Georgia Tech, dating back to 2010, adding to Clemson’s longest home winning streak in the series history.
Clemson recorded its 17th all-time home win against Georgia Tech.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney won an 86th ACC regular season game to break a tie with George Welsh for second-most regular season conference wins in ACC history.
Swinney earned his 142nd career win to tie Steve Spurrier for the sixth-most wins through the first 15 years of a coaching career in FBS history. Of note, Swinney is only in his 14th season (including an interim season in 2008).
Swinney improved to 10-5 all-time against Georgia Tech, including postseason play. Georgia Tech became the fourth school against which Swinney has recorded double-digit victories (Boston College, 12; Wake Forest, 12; NC State, 10).
Clemson improved to 43-25-1 in conference openers since joining the ACC.
Clemson improved to 53-3 against ACC opponents (including postseason play) since the start of the 2015 season.
Clemson improved to 34-8 against opponents historically from the ACC Coastal Division, including postseason play, under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. That figure includes games against traditional Coastal opponents in a divisionless season in 2020. Clemson has now won 20 of its last 21 games against the Coastal Division since 2015.
Clemson improved to 25-1 in September games since 2015, the nation’s best September record in that span.
Clemson improved to 69-4 in regular season play since the start of the 2015 season.
Clemson won its 36th consecutive game against teams unranked in the AP Poll. Clemson's last defeat at the hands of an unranked squad came in 2017 at Syracuse. Clemson is now 110-12 against AP-unranked teams under Dabo Swinney.
Clemson improved to 60-2 when scoring first since 2015.
Clemson has now won 89 of its last 91 games, including each of its last 52, when leading at halftime.
Clemson is now 111-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
Clemson has now won 28 of its last 34 one-possession games since 2011, the highest winning percentage (.824) in the country in one-score games in that span.
Clemson has won 91 of its last 92 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010), including 89 straight prior to a season-opening 10-3 loss to Georgia in 2021.
Clemson has now held three consecutive offenses without a touchdown for the first time since 1990 (Appalachian State, Duke and Georgia).
Clemson has now not allowed an offensive touchdown in all of the first three games of a season for the first time since 1950, when Clemson shut out Presbyterian, Missouri and NC State in the season's first three contests.
Per data available through Sports Reference, Clemson joined 2007 Iowa, 2008 Iowa and 2012 Florida State as the fourth team since 2000 to open the first three games of a season without allowing an offensive touchdown.
Clemson has now held opponents to 10 or fewer points five times in its last six games, dating to last season.
The game included a lightning delay of one hour and 52 minutes (including an observed halftime in that window), beginning at 5:03 p.m. ET and ending at 6:55 p.m. ET. It was the longest weather delay in Death Valley history.
Per Clemson historian and former SID Tim Bourret, the contest was Clemson’s fourth game at Death Valley ever to include a weather delay:
·Oct. 12, 1963 vs. Georgia: (20-minute halftime delay)
·Sept. 4, 1993 vs. UNLV: (17-minute fourth-quarter delay)
·Sept. 19, 2009 vs. Boston College: (55-minute third-quarter delay and a 48-minute fourth-quarter delay).
Clemson remains undefeated in games delayed by weather at Death Valley, improving to 3-0-1 in those contests.
Clemson’s 14 points were its fewest in a victory since it defeated Auburn by a 14-6 score in 2017.
Running back Will Shipley recorded career highs in rushing attempts (21) and rushing yards (88) and tied his career high with two rushing touchdowns.
Clemson opened the scoring on a three-yard touchdown run by Shipley.
With the touchdown, Shipley became the first Clemson true freshman with a rushing touchdown in back-to-back games since Lyn-J Dixon against Wake Forest and NC State in 2018.
Shipley added his second rushing touchdown on a three-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
In doing so, Shipley became the first Clemson player to rush for multiple touchdowns in multiple games as a true freshman since Travis Etienne (three) in 2017. He joined Etienne (three in 2017) and Deshaun Watson (two in 2014) as the only true freshmen to accomplish the feat in the Dabo Swinney era.
Shipley became the first Clemson true freshman with multiple rushing touchdowns in consecutive games since Etienne accomplished the feat against Florida State and The Citadel in 2017.
On a 13-yard fourth-quarter reception, wide receiver Justyn Ross (2,004) became the 16th player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards.
Ross extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 30.
Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 18-of-25 passes for 126 yards.
Uiagalelei also recorded a career-high 46 rushing yards on eight carries.
Clemson allowed zero sacks and has now held consecutive opponents without a sack for the first time since the 2018 season finale against Alabama and 2019 season opener against Georgia Tech.
Defensively, Clemson recorded a season-high four sacks.
Clemson’s four sacks were its most since posting six against Notre Dame in the 2020 ACC Championship Game.
Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee recorded a career-high 1.5 sacks.
Linebacker LaVonta Bentley added his first sack of the season.
Defensive end K.J. Henry, linebacker Trenton Simpson and defensive end Xavier Thomas each added a half-sack, their first of the season.
Punter Will Spiers started his 59th game to add to his school record for career starts broken last week. Wide receiver/holder Will Swinney's career total as Clemson's primary holder also parallels Spiers' run as starting punter.
Spiers, Swinney and linebacker James Skalski each played in their 59th career games to tie the school record for most career games played shared by tight end Cannon Smith (2015-18), defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (2015-18), safety Tanner Muse (2016-19) and safety K'Von Wallace (2016-19).
Clemson played its first conference game of the season against the Yellow Jackets for the fourth time in a six-year span (2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021). Clemson is now 43-25-1 all-time in ACC season debuts, including a 11-2 mark against Georgia Tech in those games.
Captains for the contest were tight end Braden Galloway, offensive tackle Jordan McFadden, punter Will Spiers and safety Nolan Turner.