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Watkins helps defense bounce back

Nov 19, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons running back Cade Carney (36) is tackled behind the line by Clemson Tigers linebacker Dorian O'Daniel (6) and defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99) during the at BB&T Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. — After giving up 43 points in its loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday, the Clemson defense proved it was capable of bouncing back by holding Wake Forest to 197 yards of total offense and just one touchdown in a 35-13 win over Wake Forest on Saturday at BB&T Stadium.

“I feel like we got comfortable. The defense should never get comfortable. I felt like we bounced back this week. We left last week with a chip on our shoulders,” defensive tackle Carlos Watkins said afterwards.

Watkins recorded one sack in their win against Wake, giving a team high of 7.5 sacks on the season. His total is the highest by a Clemson defensive tackle since former All-Pro and Super Bowl Champion Trevor Pryce did the same in 1996.

As a whole, the Clemson defense had four sacks for a loss of 31 yards.

“We always practice hard. We are not used to losing. We responded well,” Watkins said. “We wanted to come out here and assert our dominance.”

Despite only being 2-for-15 on third down conversion, the Demon Deacons were able to capitalize on a couple of big plays, including a 41-yard reception tight end Cam Serigne, which set them up for their only touchdown. It also got them back in the game for a short time.

Clemson (10-1, 7-1) also gave up a 51-yard reception to wide receiver Chuck Wade.

“We weren’t shocked. We knew they were a good team. They were actually close to beating a couple of big-time teams, “ Watkins said.

With their win, the fourth-ranked Tigers were able to clench the 2016 ACC Atlantic division championship giving them a shot at becoming ACC Champions on Dec. 3 in Orlando, Florida. Clemson is seeking its 16th ACC Championship, and its 22nd overall.

“It’s big. It’s really big. Now we got South Carolina next weekend and then Orlando for the ACC Championship. It’s crazy. I knew our time was coming and we want to keep it going that way,” Watkins said.

The Tigers will face South Carolina for the state title next Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Clemson. The ACC announced the kick-off for 7:30 p.m., and it will be televised by ESPN.

“I’m always excited for it. It’s a big rivalry,” the senior said

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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