Tigers gobble up Hokies, win 11th consecutive at home in 38-17 win

by - Senior Writer -
<span style=Photo by Joshua S. Kelly / US PRESSWIRE">
Photo by Joshua S. Kelly / US PRESSWIRE

CLEMSON – An ugly win is still a win, and there is life in Clemson’s defense.

No. 14 Clemson’s offense struggled through much of Saturday’s game against cross-division rival Virginia Tech, but the Clemson defense forced Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas into two interceptions and the offense had just enough in the tank as the Tigers knocked off the Hokies 38-17 in Death Valley.

Clemson quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
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Hampton, VA

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ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, while safety Jonathan MeeksJonathan Meeks
Sr. Safety
#5 6-1, 210
Rock Hill, SC

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had a 74-yard interception return for a score as Clemson won its third straight game over Virginia Tech.

Clemson (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) also stopped the Hokies (4-4, 2-2) twice on fourth downs, had three interceptions on the day and effectively bottled up Thomas, who rushed for 99 yards and passed for 207 yards but was under duress for much of the afternoon.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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gave credit to the defense for the win.

“They had a great performance. From the sidelines, I believe it was their best game of the season,” Swinney said. “We struggled with some missed tackles, but they did really well at getting turnovers, including that pick-six. They had some big stops in the second half. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, which caused some hesitancy on his part and forced him to throw off target.”

Boyd finished 12-of-21 for 160 yards - 131 fewer than his average – but was sacked five times as Clemson’s offensive line struggled against Virginia Tech’s defensive line.

“There were some missed plays, and it was like we were losing as many yards as we gained,” Swinney said. “Virginia Tech tried to challenge us, but we were able to finish those plays in the second half. Any time you score that many points against Virginia Tech, you had a good day. Now we just have to prepare for the quick turnaround against Wake Forest.”

The victory was Clemson’s 11th consecutive win at home, tying a program record. Clemson had accomplished the feat twice before - from 1937-42 and 1989-91.

The Tigers trailed 7-0 early and the Hokies were threatening to go up by two scores, but the Clemson defense stopped Michael Holmes on third and fourth downs in the opening quarter to end the Hokies' 15-play drive – the longest against Clemson this season - on Clemson's 18-yard line.

The Tigers answered with a 27-yard field goal by Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
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Greenville, SC

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– his 20th consecutive make dating back to last season. Meeks ended the next Hokie drive with his first interception of the day, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize and were forced to punt.

Spencer BentonSpencer Benton
RS Sr. Punter / Kicker
#13 6-1, 195
Myrtle Beach, SC

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’s punt was short, but bounced off of a Virginia Tech player and was recovered by Tony StewardTony Steward
So. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 235
Hastings, FL

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. Boyd put the Tigers ahead with a leaping touchdown from one yard out for a 10-7 Clemson lead.

The teams traded punts, but another Virginia Tech drive was thwarted when Thomas threw high and right into the hands of Meeks, who ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead.

“It seemed like all of my fumble recoveries and interceptions have gotten down to just the ten yard line, or the five yard line,” Meeks said after the game. It was good to get into the end zone and help out the defense. That was a big play.”

Clemson led 17-10 at the half, and the Clemson defense held Virginia Tech at bay for much of the third quarter, but the Tiger offense was unable to capitalize despite starting one drive inside Hokie territory. Three possessions into the quarter, however, the offense finally found its stride and Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
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Moncks Corner, SC

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gave the Tigers a 24-10 lead on a 12-yard touchdown.

Ellington went over 3,000 yards in his career during the quarter, and finished with 96 yards on 19 carries.

On the ensuing possession, Boyd hit Nuk Hopkins in stride for a 37-yard touchdown and Clemson led 31-10 late in the third quarter.

The Hokies made it interesting, getting a 19-yard touchdown run from Thomas with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, making it 31-17. The Hokie defense forced a three-and-out by the Clemson offense – Ellington was stuffed on 3rd-and-1 – and the Hokies took over at their own 25-yard line.

On the fourth play from scrimmage, Thomas tossed a lateral to wide receiver Marcus Davis, who then tried to throw the ball down the field. He was intercepted by Xavier BrewerXavier Brewer
Gr. Defensive Back
#9 5-11, 190
Jacksonville, FL

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– the fourth Hokie turnover of the day – and the Tigers ran off all but the final 1:33 off of the game clock. Boyd punctuated the drive – and the victory – with a one yard plunge on fourth down for the final points.

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said it was just a few plays that cost his team.

“Our guys battled hard. We played a very good football team today,” Beamer said. “I think in the end, it gets down to about four, five, six plays—a couple that we didn’t make and a couple that they got points off of or got field position off of. The whole third quarter, we just needed to pick up some first downs and play on our side of the field. The effort was great all the way around. We played hard. It came down to about four, five, six plays. Those plays get the momentum going and the whole game changes a little bit.”

Clemson has a short turnaround time – they play at Wake Forest Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

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