Tigers hammer No. 11 Hokies, 23-3

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Clemson players and fans celebrate a huge win in Lane Stadium.
Clemson players and fans celebrate a huge win in Lane Stadium.

BLACKSBURG, VA. – Clemson is coming, and it might be sooner than you think.

The Clemson Tigers continued their rumble through a rough early-season schedule Saturday night, getting three sacks and five tackles for loss from Andre BranchAndre Branch
RS Sr. Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

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in upsetting 11th-ranked Virginia Tech 23-3 at Lane Stadium.

The victory marks the first time in ACC history that an ACC team has defeated a ranked opponent three consecutive weeks, and lifts the 13th-ranked Tigers to 5-0 for the first time since 2000.

Clemson quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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said the Tigers are a team that wants to win this season, not wait on 2012.

“We heard ‘Clemson is coming’ after we had that great recruiting class and everybody was talking that we might be a year away,” Boyd said. “But we also understand that we have a lot of great players, and we know that this season has a chance to be special. We can accomplish a lot this season, and not wait on next year. We are 5-0, and we know there is a lot of season left but we certainly feel like we can win every game left on our schedule.”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said his team has responded to its championship schedule.

“To win three straight games, I think we are the only team in this country to play a champion every week for five weeks and there is probably nobody out there except these 115 players and coaches and this staff that believed we could be 5-0,” Swinney said after the game. “And you know what, that’s all that matters.

“Great win for our team. I am just humble to be with this team. This is a special group of guys, and I have been telling them that all year. They had an opportunity tonight to show everyone else that they are special. I just can't be more proud of them.”

The Tigers achieved the type of victory that hasn’t been seen in Clemson since perhaps the 1980’s – a grind-it-out approach on both offense and defense in a gritty, teeth-knocking affair in raw conditions against an opponent with a reputation for being more physical than their opponents.

“We knew what kind of defense we were going to be going against with Coach [Bud] Foster, and we knew it was going to be tough,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “We knew it was going to be a heavyweight fight. We knew they were going to hit us in the mouth, and we were going to turn around and hit them in the mouth. You have to catch your breath, and bob and weave a little bit and punt when you have to. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I am proud of how these guys responded tonight.”

The teams muddled through much of the first half, the Tigers getting a 31-yard field from Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS So. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 200
Greenville, SC

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for a 3-0 Clemson lead.

The Clemson defense, stout throughout much of the first half, was put in a bad situation following a Boyd interception midway through the second quarter. The Hokies drove as far as the Clemson two yard line, but the defense held Tech to a 24-yard Cody Journell field goal.

Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said that stop gave his defense the confidence they needed.

“We needed that right there,” Steele said. “We felt like we had been getting good pressure on them, and we had been running a lot of different guys in there. Stopping them right there told us that we can come in there and play with these guys. To give up just three points, to a Frank Beamer team in this stadium, is remarkable.”

The Tigers responded to the score the way they have all season – with a touchdown drive. The Tigers faced a 3rd-and-9 at the Hokie 34-yard line, but Boyd hit Watkins streaking over the middle for 34 yards and a first down at the Tech 11-yard line. Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Jr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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capped off the drive with a one-yard plunge, with just 1:49 remaining in the half, and led Clemson 10-3 at intermission.

The Tigers opened the second half with another big drive, and Boyd hit tight end Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 255
Fayetteville, NC

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on a seam route for a 32-yard touchdown and a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter.

“We saw the way they had been reacting to the screen all night, and we knew we could get them right there because of the angle the safety was taking,” Allen said after the game. “I actually thought we were going to come back to it in the first half, but Coach Morris held it until then. It was a great call.”

The Hokies put together another nice drive early in the fourth quarter, following a short Clemson punt and a nice return, making it as far as the Clemson 12-yard line. Facing a 4th-down-and-four at the 12, Beamer elected to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal, but Thomas’ pass was knocked down, and the Tigers took over.

Boyd promptly engineered another scoring drive, getting a 20-yard completion to Allen that saw him hurdle a cornerback, and several nice runs from Ellington to push it to the Hokie 31-yard line. At that point, Boyd handed the ball to freshman back Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Fr. Running Back
#5 5-10, 175
Nocatee, FL

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, who slipped one tackle, set up one block and showed his burst, scooting in for a 31-yard touchdown and a 23-3 Clemson lead with just over six minutes left in the contest.

Beamer said that his team lost to a good football team.

“We lost to a good football team, a team that came in and played well,” Beamer said. “We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities and it got us. That’s not to take anything away from them. I thought they played very well. We understand now, too, that it becomes ‘win your side and try to get to the ACC Championship Game.’ We have a lot to work on.”

The Tigers return to action next Saturday, hosting Boston College in Death Valley in a 3 p.m. Homecoming contest, and Allen said the Tigers won’t take the Eagles lightly.

“We are not even going to watch film on this one,” Allen said. “We have struggled against Boston College in the past, and everybody knows that. We lost to them last year, and that started their little run they had to end the season. We know how we’ve played against them, and we will start concentrating on Boston College tonight.”

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson.............  3  7  7  6  - 23       Record: (5-0,2-0)
Virginia Tech.......  0  3  0  0  -  3       Record: (4-1,0-1)

Scoring Summary:
1st 02:12 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 31 yd field goal, 11-45 3:35, CU 3 - VT 0
2nd 04:35 VT - Journell, C 24 yd field goal, 7-24 3:13, CU 3 - VT 3
    01:49 CU - Andre Ellington 1 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 9-63 2:38, CU 10 - VT 3
3rd 10:42 CU - Dwayne Allen 32 yd pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 3-66 0:55, CU 17 - VT 3
4th 06:12 CU - Mike Bellamy 31 yd run (TEAM kick failed), 8-88 3:36, CU 23 - VT 3

                                     CU       VT
FIRST DOWNS...................       18       17
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   35-119   40-133
PASSING YDS (NET).............      204      125
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  32-13-1  27-15-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   67-323   67-258
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      1-3      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      1-0     5-39
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     1-34     5-60
Interception Returns-Yards....      1-0     1-14
Punts (Number-Avg)............   8-41.4   8-29.4
Fumbles-Lost..................      0-0      3-1
Penalties-Yards...............     5-61     6-60
Possession Time...............    25:09    34:51
Third-Down Conversions........  7 of 17  4 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 0   0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-2      1-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     4-31      1-9

RUSHING: Clemson-Mike Bellamy 6-47; Andre Ellington 16-40; Tajh Boyd
10-28; Sammy Watkins 3-4. Virginia Tech-Wilson, D 20-123; Thomas, L 12-8;
Gregory, T 1-2; Oglesby, J 6-1; Team 1-minus 1.

PASSING: Clemson-Tajh Boyd 13-32-1-204. Virginia Tech-Thomas, L

RECEIVING: Clemson-Dwayne Allen 4-75; Jaron Brown 3-56; Sammy Watkins
3-38; Andre Ellington 2-20; DeAndre Hopkins 1-15. Virginia Tech-Coale, D 5-41;
Coles, DJ 4-44; Boykin, J 3-10; Wilson, D 2-21; Oglesby, J 1-9.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-Xavier Brewer 1-0. Virginia Tech-Hosley, J 1-14.

FUMBLES: Clemson-None. Virginia Tech-Thomas, L 1-0; Jarrett, K 1-0;
Wilson, D 1-1.

Stadium: Lane/Worsham Field    Attendance: 66233
Kickoff time: 6:05 PM   End of Game: 9:10 PM   Total elapsed time: 3:05
Officials: Referee: Ron Cherry; Umpire: Tom Laverty; Linesman: Troy Gray;
Line judge: Robert Zivkovic; Back judge: Barry Hendon; Field judge: Billy Beckett;
Side judge: Richard Wilborn;
Temperature: 43 F      Wind: W 13 mph  Weather: Cold, rain, WC 36

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