CLEMSON - A curious timeout call by the Yellow Jackets late in the first half gave Tommy Bowden time to change his mind and, ultimately, the complexion of the game.
Leading 10-6 but facing fourth-and goal from the Georgia Tech 2-yard line, Bowden - with no timeouts remaining - hurriedly waved his offense off the field and rushed on the kicking unit for a chip-shot field goal attempt.
Tech, caught with its normal defense on the field, chose to call time out rather than force Aaron Hunt to get his kick away before the play clock expired. During the break Bowden chose to roll the dice, sending his offense back on the field for a make-or-break fourth down play.
The gamble paid off when quarterback Willie Simmons, under heavy pressure rolling to his left, tossed a Brett Favre-esque backhanded shovel pass to tight end Bobby Williamson in the endzone for the touchdown with just :38 left in the half.
The score made it 17-6, instead of possibly 13-6.
Had it been the latter, and had things played out exactly as they did down the stretch, Georgia Tech could have kicked an extra point following its final touchdown that would have tied the game 20-20. Instead, the Yellow Jackets were forced to go for two in an attempt to narrow the margin to three points.
It failed, and Tech trailed by what would be the final score - 24-19.
Let the sports talk radio backlash begin.
After six straight games decided by exactly three points in this rivalry, the streak finally ended Saturday.
But not without a fight.
Trailing at one point 24-6, Georgia Tech rallied with a pair of second half touchdowns to pull within 24-19 with 3:43 left in the game. The Yellow Jackets tried a two-point conversion that would have brought the game to the dreaded three-point margin - 24-21 - but A.J. Suggs swing pass to tight end John Paul Foschi was stopped short of the goal line by Brian Mance and Eric Meekins.
Clemson's front four continued its early-season pattern of getting good pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Tigers sacked Suggs five times - all by the defensive front - for 55 yards in losses. Senior Nick Eason picked up two of the sacks, giving him three already this season after going the entire 2001 campaign without one.
After posting a plus-five turnover ratio through two games, Clemson came back to earth a bit Saturday.
The Tigers turned it over four times - three fumbles and an interception - to two for the Yellow Jackets. The Tigers have now caused nine turnovers on the season while giving it away six times, a ratio of plus-three.
Clemson also recovered two of its own fumbles during a game played much of the time in a steady rain.
Both tight end Williamson and wide receiver Tony Elliott caught their first career touchdown passes Saturday.
Williamson's came on the aforementioned fourth-and-goal pass at the end of the first half. Elliott's was a 44-yard reception on a play that he broke off his route and went deep as Simmons scrambled to his right.
Spring sports award winners were presented during pregame ceremonies Saturday.
The list of the award winners included Jamie Moton, an All-American and National Champion in women's track, who received the Frank Howard Award.
Academic All-America swimmer Ginny Kirouac and former Clemson All-ACC
football player Chad Carson were named the outstanding male and female scholar athletes, respectively.
Clemson takes on David Letterman's alma mater - Ball State - next Saturday at Death Valley.