DURHAM, N.C. - It took a record-setting performance by a rookie quarterback
and a clutch field goal to do it, but Clemson's postseason hopes remain alive
for yet another week.
Aaron Hunt's 21-yard field goal with :08 left in the game gave the Tigers a
34-31 victory over Duke Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium. Hunt's
kick capped off a wild fourth quarter which saw Clemson (5-4, 3-3 Atlantic
Coast Conference) rally from a 24-10 deficit to win.
It also brought a fitting end for Tigers' redshirt freshman quarterback
Charlie Whitehurst, who in his first-ever start shattered two school passing
records and tied a third. Whitehurst set new standards for completions (34,
in 52 attempts) and passing yardage (420), and tied Willie Simmons' single
game record of four touchdown passes.
"I didn't even know about the records until somebody told me coming off the
field," said Whitehurst. "Over 400 yards of offense is pretty good. It hasn't
sunk in yet."
Simmons, who had started every game this season, did not play Saturday.
"I'm really pleased with the team after an embarrassing loss last week and
falling behind early," said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. "They responded
well...Give a lot of credit to our seniors for pulling it together.
"Charlie did a heck of a job his first time out. He drove the field. He
stayed in the pocket and was patient. Patience was the key."
The dramatic finish didn't come without quite a bit of angst for Clemson,
both early and late.
When Duke (2-8, 0-6) quarterback Adam Smith found Khary Sharpe (5 receptions,
122 yards) open on a deep post pattern for a 54-yard scoring pass and a 24-10
lead with 11:11 to go, it looked for all the world as if the Tigers were
doomed to an embarrassing defeat. The crowd of 16,479 - which included at
least 5,000 Clemson fans - was stunned.
Fortunately the Tiger players weren't.
Facing fourth-and-10 from the Duke 47, Whitehurst calmly sidestepped a Blue
Devils' blitz and fired a strike to Airese Currie on a crossing pattern.
Currie caught the ball near the 25-yard line and outran the defense for a
touchdown with 10:14 left.
The touchdown cut the Duke lead to 24-17, and began a roll which saw the
Tigers score 21 points in a span of 4:06. Following a three-and-out by Duke,
- Scored on the first play of the next drive, a 49-yard pass from Whitehurst
to Derrick Hamilton with 8:03 remaining to tie it 24-24;
- Turned a Justin Miller interception into the go-ahead touchdown on the next
possession, driving 38 yards in 5 plays. Whitehurst's 15-yard slant pass to
J.J. McKelvey capped the drive and put the Tigers on top 31-24 with 6:09 to
"Our job is to give the offense as many at-bats as possible," said Clemson
safety Eric Meekins. "We keep giving them the ball and eventually they're
going to get in. We have too many great athletes on that side of the ball for
something big not to happen."
But Duke wasn't through. After having a potential game-tying drive stall on
the Clemson 14, the Blue Devils regained possession when Whitehurst - on
third-and-11 from his own 35 - held the ball too long and ultimately fumbled
under tremendous pressure.
Matt Zielinski recovered for Duke at the Clemson 24, and two plays later
Smith found tight end Andy Roland for a game-tying touchdown pass with 2:36
The score didn't come without some measure of controversy. On the previous
play Smith threw to tight end Calen Powell, who was hit and lost the ball at
the five yard line. Clemson recovered the loose ball, but the pass was ruled
However, television replays clearly showed Powell not only got two feet down
on the catch, but turned and ran at least two steps before a Tiger defensive
back jarred the ball loose.
"After last week people questioned the leadership on this team," said Duke
head coach Carl Franks. "I think we showed just how good we are. We have some
good leadership on this team."
Whitehurst answered by calmly driving the Tigers from their own 40 to the
Duke 4-yard line. After a time out, Hunt drilled the 21-yard field goal from
the right hash with :08 to go for the game-winner.
Smith's final desperation pass from his own 16-yard line was intercepted by
Meekins as time expired.
"We thought we had this game," said Duke defensive end Shawn Johnson.
"...They had three touchdowns in a span of (about) three minutes. That's
unheard of in college football, but they did it to us. That was the
The fourth-quarter comeback offset an otherwise dreary offensive performance
by Clemson, as well as another worrisome outing by the defense.
After opening the game with a 10-play, 65-yard drive - run at the old
fastbreak pace - capped by Kevin Youngblood's 14-yard touchdown reception,
Clemson's offense went stagnant. The Tigers rushed for just 25 yards in the
first half (on 16 carries) and lost the time of possession battle by more
than eight minutes. Clemson finished the game with just 59 net rushing yards.
Duke, meanwhile, scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead into
The Blue Devils finished with 468 total yards against Clemson's defense, 310
passing and 158 on the ground.
"Duke didn't have one three-and-out in the first half," Bowden said. "We
could have worn them down, but Duke moved the ball and had good field
position. In the second half, we (got) a bunch of three-and-outs."
Clemson 7, Duke 0
Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards in 3:07.
Scoring Play: Youngblood 14-yard pass from Whitehurst at 11:53. Key Play: Whitehurst's 22-yard pass to Ben Hall to the Duke 25.
Clemson 7, Duke 7
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 82 yards in 3:16.
Scoring Play: Scott's 20-yard pass to Douglas at 8:29.
Key Play: Douglas' 46-yard run to the CU 30 on third-and-4.
Duke 14, Clemson 7
Scoring Drive: 12 plays, 68 yards in 5:19.
Scoring Play: Smith's 15-yard pass to Landrum at 6:29.
Key Play: Smith's 9-yard pass to Johnson to the CU 20 on third-and-4.
Duke 17, Clemson 7
Scoring Drive: 11 plays, 50 yards in 4:42.
Scoring Play: Garber's 27-yard field goal at :00.
Key Play: Smith's 2-yard sneak to the CU 19 on third-and-2.
Duke 17, Clemson 10
Scoring Drive: 12 plays, 72 yards in 3:27.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 34-yard field goal at 7:26.
Key Play: Rambert's 25-yard run to the Duke 10.
Duke 24, Clemson 10
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 87 yards in 1:58.
Scoring Play: Smith's 54-yard pass to Sharpe at 11:11.
Key Play: Scoring play.
Duke 24, Clemson 17
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 69 yards in :46.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 47-yard pass to Currie at 10:14.
Key Play: Scoring play, which came on fourth-and-10.
Duke 24, Clemson 24
Scoring Drive: 1 play, 49 yards in :07.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 49-yard pass to Hamilton at 8:03.
Key Play: Scoring play.
Clemson 31, Duke 24
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 38 yards in 1:25.
Scoring Play: Whitehurst's 15-yard pass to McKelvey at 6:09.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 12-yard completion to Hamilton to the Duke 15.
Clemson 31, Duke 31
Scoring Drive: 2 plays, 24 yards in :12.
Scoring Play: Smith's 24-yard pass to Roland at 2:36.
Key Play: Scoring Play.
Clemson 34, Duke 31
Scoring Drive: 9 plays, 56 yards in 2:18.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 21-yard field goal at :08.
Key Play: Whitehurst's 19-yard completion to Hamilton on third-and-10 from
the CU 40-yard line.
First downs 26 23
Rushed-yards 33-59 40-158
Passing yards 420 310
Sacked-yards lost 6-35 1-7
Return yards 29 27
Passes 34-52-0 24-45-3
Punts 5-37.2 6-33.3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-59 1-5
Time of possession 25:27 34:33
CLEMSON - Bernard Rambert 13-46, Yusef Kelly 6-19, Chad Jasmin 1-0, Charlie Whitehurst 13-MINUS 6.
DUKE - Chris Douglas 14-81, Alexander Wade 14-46, Adam Smith 11-26, Senterrio Landrum 1-5.
CLEMSON - Charlie Whitehurst 34-52-420- 0.
DUKE - Adam Smith 23-44-290- 3. Darryl Scott 1-1-20- 0.
CLEMSON - JJ McKelvey 10-103, Derrick Hamilton 7-101, Kevin Youngblood 8-61, Airese Currie 1-47, Ben Hall 2-34, Bernard Rambert 3-33, Jackie Robinson 1-21, Chad Jasmin 2-20.
DUKE - Khary Sharpe 5-122, Calen Powell 3-45, Lance Johnson 6-38, Senterrio Landrum 4-29, Chris Douglas 2-27, Alexander Wade 3-25, Andy Roland 1-24.
Attendance - 16,479