CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Four games into a season of dominance, No. 11 Clemson showed Saturday that it is for real. Woodrow Dantzler is for real, too.
Clemson wide receiver Joe Don Reames celebrated his first-half TD Saturday in the Tigers' victory. Dantzler ran for 220 yards and two long touchdowns and the Tigers' top-rated defense held Virginia to one gift touchdown in a 31-10 victory.
Dantzler, the nation's second-leading passer and 38th-ranked rusher coming into the game, did plenty of both. He scored on runs of 75 and 45 yards, and completed 15 of 24 passes for 154 yards and another score.
"We just found some holes in the defense that we exploited through the running game," Dantzler said. "I just happened to be the guy running."
Dantzler carried just 18 times, but ended with 374 of the Tigers' 481 yards of offense, and gave the Clemson defense plenty to watch and enjoy.
"Woody's just amazing," linebacker Keith Adams said. "He can throw the ball. He can run. He's a leader out there on the field. And just a combination like that, he's just unstoppable." The Tigers defense did its part, too. It shut down Virginia's passing game, forced Dan Ellis to hurry several throws and held 6-foot-4 receiver Billy McMullen to three catches for 40 yards until the fourth quarter.
McMullen, who added two catches late in the game when the outcome had been decided, earlier had catches for 1 and 2 yards, plus a 37-yarder.
"This was really a test for us," Adams said. "It was a test for us to go out there and try to prove to the nation and within ourselves that we can be for real. ... We definitely feel that we're for real." Ellis, who averaged 316 yards passing in his last two games, was 17-for-39 for 170 yards. He was intercepted once and twice fumbled snaps. "It was just one of those days," he said.
The Tigers led 17-10 at the half before Dantzler put the game away. On Clemson's first possession of the second half, he kept the ball on second-and-8 from his own 25, turning the corner wide on the right and down the sideline, finally slashing back to the middle for the points. "The thing we said from the beginning was, `Don't let them run the ball, especially with the quarterback,' " Virginia coach George Welsh said.
"They spread you out and they nickel and dime you to death with the passes when you're not covering them up, and they keep working and keep working trying to get him free," Welsh said of Dantzler. Dantzler did it again late in the quarter, following Alex Ardley's end zone interception with a five-play drive. Dantzler ran for 7 to start the march, and for the last 45 to make it 31-10 with 18 minutes left.
Trailing 10-3 before 60,695 fans, the largest football crowd in state history, Clemson scored twice in a span of 2:42 to take the lead.
"To get where we want to go, that is going to have to happen," Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said of the early adversity. "You have to not panic and remain calm when you turn the ball over and show composure on the road."
First, Joe Don Reames fielded a punt at his 31, stepped between two Cavaliers and weaved untouched for a 69-yard return that tied it at 10.
Then, after Virginia went three-and-out and Mike Abrams shanked a punt 10 yards to the Tigers' 39, Dantzler needed just five plays. The last one was a 30-yard pass to a wide open Jackie Robinson down the middle.
It was the Tigers' shortest touchdown play of the game.
The Tigers' 17-10 halftime lead might have been much bigger if not for Travis Zachery's inability to hold onto the ball. Zachery botched a punt at his 3 after Virginia's first possession, and later fumbled on a third-and-2 dive from the Cavaliers' 3 late in the second quarter. Virginia recovered both times, and turned the first miscue into its only touchdown of the half -- a 3-yard option run by Antwoine Womack.
Ahmad Hawkins intercepted a pass with 12:32 remaining, marking the first time in 80 throws this season that Dantzler has been intercepted.
But the Tigers' defense held and Virginia turned it over on downs.