DURHAM, N.C. - Charlie Whitehurst, son of a former college quarterback, had
been preparing for Saturday all his life. And once given the opportunity, he
Whitehurst, in his first collegiate start, broke three school records and
tied a fourth in leading Clemson to a 34-31, come-from-behind victory at
Duke. Saturday's start came after three relief appearances behind Willie
Simmons, who did not see action against the Blue Devils.
Given the way he performed, his first game at the helm won't be his last.
"It's a real confidence boost for me," he said. "There's a lot of trials and
tribulations you have to go through. Luckily we got the win."
Clemson got the win largely because of Whitehurst's gunslinging ways. In just
his fourth college appearance, the redshirt freshman:
- Broke the school record for single game passing yardage with 420,
surpassing Brandon Streeter's 343 set against Virginia in 1999;
- Surpassed the single-game mark for completions (27) by hitting receivers 34
times. The previous mark was also held by Streeter, accomplished against both
N.C. State (1998) and Virginia (1999);
- Broke Patrick Sapp's school record of participating in 64 offensive plays
in a single game, set against Maryland in 1992. Whitehurst finished the day
with 65 total plays (52 passing, 13 rushing;
- Tied Nealon Greene, Woody Dantzler, Bobby Gage and teammate Willie Simmons
for the school record of four touchdown passes in a game.
And just to prove he could do it when it mattered most, Whitehurst threw for
215 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, rallying the
Tigers from a 24-10 deficit in the final 11:11.
"Charlie Whitehurst threw for over 400 yards today, so we have to give him
credit," said Duke defensive end Shawn Johnson. "We have to give him all the
credit in the world. He played great today."
There were also moments of growing pains for the youngster.
On third-and-11 with the Tigers leading 31-24 late in the game, Whitehurst
held the ball too long trying to find an open receiver, was hit and lost a
fumble. Duke turned the miscue into a game-tying touchdown two plays later,
when Adam Smith threw 24 yards to Andy Roland with 2:36 left in the game.
Later, with less than a minute left and Clemson in position for a potential
game-winning field goal, Whitehurst tried to force a ball to Bobby Williamson
in the end zone and was nearly intercepted.
As it was, the ball fell incomplete and Aaron Hunt would kick the
game-winning 21-yard field goal just moments later. But Whitehurst knew he
got away with one.
"There's a lot of trials and tribulations you have to go through," he said.
"There were a lot of plays I didn't do well on. That's what I want to
concentrate on - not the good plays, but fixing the bad plays."