CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson’s defensive secondary problems were magnified against Georgia Tech, with Yellow Jacket junior quarterback George Godsey picking apart the Tigers for a school record 454 yards on 35-57 passing with three touchdowns.
“The bottom line is that we’re not playing very good pass defense right now. It’s a shame because we’ve got some spirited kids on our team who aren’t playing well,” said defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. “We’ve got all of the coverages; three-deep, two-deep, man, we’ve just got to make plays. With the big game on the line, national television. You’ve got to make the plays when the game is one the line.”
Following Rod Gardner’s touchdown catch with 1:52 remaining, Georgia Tech took over and their own 20-yard line and methodically drove 80-yards, with Godsey finding Kerry Watkins from 16 yards out for the winning score.
“You couldn’t have asked for anything else: the defense had a chance to win it with 1:50 left in the game and that’s what we want,” said Clemson linebacker Chad Carson.
“We have a lot of pride on defense and we expect to win the game. If I had to do it over again I’d want to be on defense again at the end of the game.”
-Saturday’s meeting between Clemson and Georgia Tech was the 65th between the two schools, with the Yellow Jackets holding the series edge, 43-20-2. Georgia Tech has now won the last four meetings between the two, all by a three-point margin.
-Clemson Sports Information Director Emeritus Bob Bradley was honored before the game with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor given to South Carolina residents. Bradley served as Clemson sports information director from 1955 to 1989 and attended an amazing 502 consecutive Tiger football from October 20, 1955 to October 14, 2000.
“Bob Bradley is an unsung hero of Clemson football,” said South Carolina governor Jim Hodges. “He’s been a presence longer in Death Valley longer than Coach Howard’s Rock. His tireless service to Clemson University makes him truly deserving of our state’s highest honor.”
Bradley spent Saturday afternoon in Oconee Memorial Hospital due to pneumonia and an irregular heartbeat. He has also been battling bone cancer for the past two years.
- Members of Clemson’s 1950 Orange Bowl championship team reunited at Death Valley Saturday. The Tigers finished the year 8-0-1, with a 14-14 tie against South Carolina marking the team’s lone setback. Thanks to defensive end Sterling Smith’s tackle of Miami running back for a safety, Clemson held on to beat the Hurricanes 15-14 in the Orange Bowl and finish the season ranked in the top-ten for the first time in school history. 38 of the team’s 48 players were on hand to walk down the hill before Saturday’s game.
- Clemson injuries: Joe Don Reames suffered a sprained neck and did not return for the second half. He was taken to Oconee Hospital in Seneca. X-rays were negative. His status will be reevaluated on Sunday. Woodrow Dantzler took a hit on his left ankle in the first quarter, played the rest of the half, but at halftime decided it was too painful to continue. "I took a hit early in the first quarter at just about the same place on my ankle as last week. I thought I could be effective, but at halftime it was just too painful. It was disappointing. Credit Georgia Tech, there defense was very good. This hurts now, but we will come back."
- Clemson scored four touchdowns in the game, three passing and one on a punt return. That gives Clemson a school record 51 touchdowns for the season. The previous record was 48, set by the 1950 Clemson team, a team that was honored before the game. That Clemson team was 9-0-1 in 1950, the first Clemson team to finish a season ranked in the final top 10.
- Clemson also set a school record for points scored in a season. The Tigers have now scored 373 points this year, a school record. The previous best was 368 set in 1978 and 1989. Rod Gardner's leaping touchdown in the endzone that put Clemson up 28-24 with 1:52 left, broke the record.
- Travis Zachery had 16-101 rushing. That was his third 100-yard rushing game in his last four. He now has 488 yards rushing in his last four games, giving him 122 per game over this period of time. He scored a touchdown on a 29-yard pass reception, his 35th career touchdown. He already had the Clemson overall touchdown record.
- Brian Mance's 88-yard punt return tied for the fourth longest punt return in Clemson history. It was the longest by a Tiger since 1991 when Darnell Stephens raced 89 yards in a win over Maryland. Mance had 105 yards in punt returns in the game, just the seventh 100-yard game in that category in Clemson history. It was the first 100-yard punt return game by a Tiger since 1997 when Tony Horne had 106 against UTEP.
- Clemson has now lost to Georgia Tech four consecutive years by exactly three points. It was the fifth straight year that the Clemson Georgia Tech game has been decided by exactly three points.
- Clemson certainly had its best game of the year from a punt return team standpoint, it contributed to two of Clemson's four touchdowns. Toure Francis had his first career block in the first period, leading to Woody Dantzler's one-yard run. Then, Brian Mance had the 88-yard punt return for a score. Clemson had 130 team punt return yards for the game, ninth highest figure in school history.
- The 97 plays by Georgia Tech tied for second most ever against the Tigers. The record is 99 by South Carolina in 1968. It was the most by a Clemson opponent since 1970 when North Carolina ran 97.
- Tech's defense held Clemson to a season low 354 yards of total offense and a season low 28 points.
- Georgia Tech had 454 yards passing, most ever against Clemson. The previous high was 442 by Florida State (an offense coordinated by current Clemson tight ends coach Brad Scott) in 1993. George Godsey had all 454 yards passing, the most ever against Clemson. The previous best was 418 by John Kaleo of Maryland in 1992. Godsey also set the Clemson opponent record for total offense with 450. The previous record was 410 by Joe Hamilton of Georgia Tech last year.
- Kelly Campbell had 14-209 receiving, the most receptions ever against Clemson. The previous best was 13 set by three different players, all of whom played for Duke. The 209 receiving yards tied for the third most ever against Clemson.