Clemson knocks off No. 21 Auburn 38-24, ends Auburn's 17-game winning streak

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Sammy Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Sammy Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

CLEMSON – Auburn, the No. 21 team in the country and the defending national champions, had everything on its side early in Saturday’s game against Clemson – an early 21-7 lead, a 17-game winning streak, a reputation for luck and the confidence of a team that knows how to come from behind and win against quality competition.

The winning streak, the lead and luck all disappeared in the sun-dappled shadows of an early fall afternoon as the Clemson offense ran up 624 yards of total offense, quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 230
Hampton, VA

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threw for 386 yards and freshman receiver Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-2, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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continued to make his mark in Clemson’s 38-24 win over Auburn.

Boyd finished 30-for-42 for 386 yards and four touchdowns, Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns and added 44 yards on seven carries and Clemson outscored Auburn 31-3 over the last 38:54 of the game in knocking off the defending champs, the third time in Clemson history the previous season’s national champion has come to Death Valley to play and the third team they’ve left with a loss.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney praised his team’s own come-from-behind win.

“This is the same thing we’ve done in the first two games,” Swinney said. “We were down at halftime against Troy, too, but we kept playing. There was no panic on our sidelines. We really moved the ball. We wanted to run the ball in the first half, but when the run wasn’t there, it gave us opportunities to throw, which opened up the run in the second half.

“We had the ball for the final nine minutes in the fourth quarter. That’s dominant. We knew Auburn was going to be a tough out. We had the Sun Belt Champions, then the Southern Conference Champions, and then the National Champions and we’re 3-0. Now we have to get ready for the ACC Atlantic Division Champions to come in next week.”

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said his team was outplayed over the final 38:54.

“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed in our performance today, but I have to start out by giving a lot of credit to Clemson,” Chizik said. “I feel like they outplayed us pretty much from the second quarter all the way through the rest of the football game. They have good players and good coaches, and they have a really good football team. My hat’s off to them and their ability to execute pretty much all day long. We had a fast start to the game and couldn’t really sustain much after that.”

Each team stalled on its opening possession of the game, but Auburn took just 25 seconds to score on its second drive. Running back Michael Dyer, who didn’t carry on the first drive, took the pitch from quarterback Barrett Trotter and raced 52 yards, untouched, into the end zone for a quick 7-0 Auburn lead.

The next Auburn drive saw the Tigers drive down to the Clemson 36-yard, and facing a fourth-and-five elected to go for it. Trotter hit a wide open Emory Blake down the seam for another quick strike and Auburn led 14-0 just seven minutes into the game.

Later in the quarter, Clemson finally found an offensive rhythm as Boyd hit Watkins and Hopkins on several big pass plays, the biggest coming on a second-and-goal from the four-yard line, Boyd hitting Hopkins on a quick slant on a play that saw Hopkins wrestle the ball from the defensive back for a touchdown.

Auburn then went on a 16-play, 90-yard drive that sucked the life out of the Clemson defense, capping the drive on a one-yard plunge by Dyer to make it 21-7 Auburn midway through the second quarter.

Boyd went back to the air on Clemson’s ensuing possession as the Tigers marched 81 yards in 12 plays, converting three consecutive third downs along the way, and scoring when Boyd hit Allen crossing the middle of the end zone on a six-yard scoring strike, making it 21-14 Auburn with just under five minutes remaining.

The Tiger defense finally made a stop on Auburn, and Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Jr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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capped an eight play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard plunge, tying the score at 21.

Clemson started the second half the same way the first half ended – converting third downs and scoring points. Facing a third down at their own 35-yard line, Boyd hit Watkins in the flat, and Watkins turned on the jets, racing 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and a 28-21 lead.

Clemson was driving for another score one possession later, moving the ball inside the Auburn 20-yard Iine, but freshman running back Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Fr. Running Back
#5 5-10, 187
Nocatee, FL

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fumbled the ball back to Auburn. Auburn finished off the drive with a 38-yard field goal by Cody Parkey, and Clemson led 28-24 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Clemson got another big play from Watkins on the next drive, the Florida native taking a pass over the middle from Boyd and following a Hopkins’ block into the end zone for a 35-24 Clemson lead.

Clemson added a 38-yard field goal by Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS So. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 205
Greenville, SC

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at the 11:48 mark of the fourth quarter, but Auburn threatened to make it a game again, driving down to the Clemson 13-yard line. However, corner Coty SensabaughCoty Sensabaugh
RS Sr. Defensive Back
#15 6-0, 180
Kingsport, TN

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ended the threat with a diving interception at the Clemson five-yard line.

Clemson then made Morris proud, running out the final 9:34 off of the game clock on an 18-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Boyd taking a knee to the cheers of the 82,000 in attendance.

“The Valley was rocking. I can’t thank our fans enough,” Swinney said. “We need to play well every week to give them something to cheer about. There’s no better place in college football than Death Valley. I told our guys that they could either be victim number 18 or the guys who broke the streak. There’s no better place to kill a winning streak than Clemson, S.C. I’m proud of everyone. Our guys believe. We’re 3-0 and we have to stay focused. It’s important how we handle success. We have to remember that it was an all in commitment that got us here.”

Center Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#55 6-5, 285
Pelion, SC

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said the offensive line wanted to make a statement against Auburn after two sub-par weeks to open the season.

“Today feels pretty good. We still have a lot of improving to do,” Freeman said. “We finally got more prepared and felt a little more confident coming into the game. We never stopped believing. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter ballgame. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. We kept going and we knew the defense was going to stop them.”

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Auburn.............. 14  7  3  0  - 24       Record:
Clemson.............  0 21 14  3  - 38       Record:

Scoring Summary:
1st 10:36 AU - Michael Dyer 52 yd run (Cody Parkey kick), 2-69 0:25, AU 7 - CU 0
    07:54 AU - Emory Blake 36 yd pass from Barrett Trotter (Cody Parkey kick), 6-54 2:03, AU 14 - CU 0
2nd 14:56 CU - DeAndre Hopkins 4 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 8-60 2:15, AU 14 - CU 7
    08:54 AU - Michael Dyer 1 yd run (Cody Parkey kick), 16-90 5:57, AU 21 - CU 7
    05:06 CU - Dwayne Allen 6 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 12-81 3:43, AU 21 - CU 14
    01:11 CU - Andre Ellington 2 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 8-75 2:33, AU 21 - CU 21
3rd 13:45 CU - Sammy Watkins 65 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 4-80 1:15, AU 21 - CU 28
    05:00 AU - Cody Parkey 38 yd field goal, 8-62 3:01, AU 24 - CU 28
    00:16 CU - Sammy Watkins 19 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 12-80 4:44, AU 24 - CU 35
4th 11:48 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 38 yd field goal, 8-62 2:55, AU 24 - CU 38

                                     AU       CU
FIRST DOWNS...................       19       32
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   38-237   50-238
PASSING YDS (NET).............      198      386
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  25-12-1  42-30-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   63-435   92-624
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      2-6      0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     4-63     1-16
Interception Returns-Yards....      0-0      1-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............   6-41.3   3-46.0
Fumbles-Lost..................      0-0      1-1
Penalties-Yards...............     5-40     6-50
Possession Time...............    23:45    36:15
Third-Down Conversions........  5 of 13 14 of 18
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 1   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-3      5-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      0-0      1-1

RUSHING: Auburn-Michael Dyer 16-151; O. McCalebb 10-34; Trovon Reed 3-20;
Tre Mason 4-15; Barrett Trotter 4-14; Kiehl Frazier 1-3. Clemson-D.J. Howard
9-86; Andre Ellington 14-46; Sammy Watkins 7-44; Mike Bellamy 11-36; Tajh Boyd
7-30; TEAM 2-minus 4.

PASSING: Auburn-Barrett Trotter 12-25-1-198. Clemson-Tajh Boyd

RECEIVING: Auburn-T. Stallworth 5-71; Trovon Reed 3-31; DeAngelo Benton
1-41; Emory Blake 1-36; O. McCalebb 1-17; Quindarius Carr 1-2. Clemson-Sammy
Watkins 10-155; DeAndre Hopkins 7-83; Dwayne Allen 7-80; Charone Peake 2-41;
Jaron Brown 2-22; Mike Bellamy 1-4; Andre Ellington 1-1.

INTERCEPTIONS: Auburn-None. Clemson-Coty Sensabaugh 1-0.

FUMBLES: Auburn-None. Clemson-Mike Bellamy 1-1.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium      Attendance: 82000
Kickoff time: 12:07 PM  End of Game: 3:32 PM   Total elapsed time: 3:25
Officials: Referee: Matt Austin; Umpire: Wilbur Hackett; Linesman: Lane Thomas;
Line judge: Michael Taylor; Back judge: Steven Patrick; Field judge: Blake Parks;
Side judge: Rob Skelton;
Temperature: 68 deg    Wind: Calm      Weather: Cloudy skies

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