CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — During pregame warm ups prior to Friday’s game at Boston College, Clemson had coach Dabo Swinney walked around and asked each of his players, “Who are you going to be tonight?”
They responded by showing who they were. The third-ranked Tigers came out and scored three first-quarter touchdowns and then put an explanation on a 56-10 victory with three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“We came here to take care of business and we did just that,” Swinney said afterwards. “We wanted to play our best game of the year, and we played our best game of the year. I thought it was a dominant second half and it was a great start, probably as good of a start as you can have outside of the muffed punt.”
The muffed punt, which Ray Ray McCloud did after the Tigers forced a three-and-out on BC’s first possession, is all they did wrong in the opening quarter. McCloud’s error led to a 21-yard Mike Knoll field goal, but from there the rest of the night belonged to the Tigers.
On Clemson’s next possession, running back Wayne Gallman took a handoff from quarterback Deshaun Watson and raced 59 yards up the middle to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead with 9:22 to play in the first quarter and they never looked back.
From there, Mike Williams made a spectacular 50-yard diving catch from Watson on the next possession, and three players later the two hooked up again for a nine-yard score for a 14-3 lead with 3:12 to play in the opening quarter.
After the defense forced another three-and-out, it took one play for the offense to make the score 21-3 as Watson, who threw for 266 yards and four touchdowns, teamed up with tight end Jordan Leggett this time for a 56-yard touchdown pass. Leggett caught the ball down the seam, cut back to the outside and then out ran the Eagles’ secondary for the score with 1:29 to go in the quarter.
“We had a little slow start to the second quarter, but all three phases kind of hit it, and it just kind of went from there. But, I think it was probably the best game we had this year, and now we have to improve on it,” Watson said.
After being held scoreless in the second quarter, Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) responded with 35-second half points, including 14 in the third quarter as Watson found wide receiver Deon Cain wide open for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 11:38 to play in the quarter, and then again for a 16-yard scoring toss with 5:18 to go.
In the fourth quarter, Tyshon Dye ran in from three yards out, while freshman Tavien Feaster broke through for a 45-yard touchdown. Reserve cornerback Mark Fields put a bow on the game when he intercepted backup quarterback Darius Wade’s only pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown.
“One thing from the last few weeks is that we have not played as well as we have in the first half, so (Swinney) really challenged us to come out and really finish the game and make this the best second half that we’ve played all season,” said Gallman, who rushed for 109 yards on nine carries.
The defense also did its part, holding Boston College (3-3, 0-3 ACC) to 251 yards on 72 plays. The Tigers also forced two turnovers and sacked starting quarterback Patrick Towles three times. Towles completed just 11-of-22 passes for 91 yards.
“That is what we wanted to do. We wanted to play a complete game because we have not done that all year,” said linebacker Ben Boulware, who finished the game with nine tackles and forced a fumble. “We have played pretty good football, but we kind of left a quarter or a half of a quarter out there and kind of played pretty crappy.
“The second quarter we were kind of sloppy on those long drives and the one that they scored, but I feel like, all and all, it was a complete game. We wanted to go out there and dominate in every aspect and we did that.”