Out of Options: Tigers run over and through Georgia Tech
|Saturday, October 28, 2017, 11:21 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Georgia Tech’s offense ran out of options against a fired-up Clemson defense.
Seventh-ranked Clemson dominated from start to finish and held Tech to just 230 yards of total offense in defeating the Yellow Jackets 24-10 in a soggy Death Valley Saturday night. Clemson has won three in a row in the series and five out of the last six.
"I’m really proud of our team," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "Everything is about how you respond. Good teams respond, and great teams respond like we did. I can’t tell you how proud of I am of our team and our staff. We were better tonight than we probably have been at any point this season.”
Most of the first half was played in a driving rain reminiscent of the Tigers’ victory over Notre Dame two years ago. Unlike the game against the Irish, however, late heroics weren’t needed. Clemson plays at North Carolina State next Saturday in a battle for supremacy in the ACC Atlantic.
Clemson improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the ACC while Tech falls to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Clemson has won 38 of its last 41 games dating to 2014, and the Tigers have won 22 of their last 24 against ACC teams. Clemson is 14-1 at night over the last two years. The Tigers have won 39 in a row when rushing for at least 200 yards, and they rushed for 221 yards Saturday.
"We’re right where we wanted to be coming into this season," Swinney said. "It’s November, and we’re moving into the next phase of our journey. If we want something, we’re going to have to go and get it. And we’re one of the teams that has a chance, and that’s right where we wanted to be. I’m excited about having the opportunity to control our own destiny. It’s up to us to take advantage of it.”
Kelly Bryant was 22-for-33 through the air for 207 yards and two touchdowns, while Deon Cain had four receptions for 57 yards and a score. Bryant added 12 carries for 67 yards to lead a balanced Tiger attack – Clemson had 207 through the air and 221 on the ground.
“Clemson has a really good football team, and we didn’t play very well," Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. "That comes back to me. It starts with me. I thought we were ready to play, but clearly, we weren’t. We couldn’t win any one-on-one plays, any one-on-one blocks. We really struggled offensively. Defensively, we missed a ton of tackles and gave up some big plays to dig ourselves a hole. We actually played decently in the second half on defense, but we were so far behind it didn’t matter.”
The Yellow Jackets earned an initial first down, but a fumble on the fourth play of the game was recovered by Clemson and the Tigers took over at the Tech 45. Two plays later, Bryant hit Cain in the flat and Cain spun around one defender and raced 38 yards into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
A Clemson fumble and a 65-yard Tech run set the Jackets up inside the Clemson 10, but Tech had to settle for a 25-yard field goal that made it 7-3 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers were the beneficiaries of a facemask penalty on the ensuing kickoff and took over at their own 45. Eight plays later, tight end Milan Richard ran a skinny post and Bryant hit him in stride to complete a 20-yard scoring play and Clemson led 14-3 late in the first quarter.
The persistent rain got heavier and both teams traded a series of punts, but Clemson put together another drive late in the first half. Bryant did most of the damage on the ground, carrying four times for 37 yards, but it was Travis Etienne who rumbled in from two yards out to make it 21-3 with just over three minutes left before the break.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 75 yards in plays, but the drive stalled deep in Tech territory. Out walked kicker Alex Spence, who entered the game just 2-for-6 since taking over for the injured Greg Huegel. Spence calmly drilled a 29-yarder and Clemson led 24-3.
The Jackets put together a drive against a bevy of Clemson reserves late, scoring on TaQuon Marshall’s 22-yard scoring run. With 4:43 to play, Clemson held a 24-10 advantage.