Last week, Deshaun Watson left the door open for a possible return to Clemson next season, after his departure for the NFL Draft has been assumed all year long. If that was his final game in Memorial Stadium, it was one heck of a way to finish.
Watson was efficient, aggressive, and deadly in Saturday’s ??-? victory over South Carolina. He completed 26 of his 32 pass attempts for 347 yards and six touchdowns, and he rushed for 19 yards on five carries.
Watson’s performance mirrored that of the team as a whole, as the Tigers pushed the outer limits of what has been historically doable against the Gamecocks. Those six passing touchdowns—completed to four different receivers—are the most ever for a quarterback on either side of this rivalry.
In the final installment for the Watson-to-Williams combination at home, the junior quarterback found his favorite target for touchdowns twice in the game’s first ten minutes. Williams hauled in a jump ball from 34 yards out on the game’s first drive, then he took one in through contact from 19 yards away a little more than five minutes later.
Jordan Leggett was the beneficiary of Watson’s third touchdown toss of the first quarter, as he caught a skinny post for an 11-yard score. With just eight seconds to go in the first half, Watson found Williams once again for a workmanlike 16-yard touchdown that gave Clemson a 35-0 advantage heading into the locker room.
After the break, Watson capped his day with a three-yard fade to Artavis Scott that made the Clemson lead balloon to 42 points at 49-7 with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter. That was all Watson needed to do—except for one more thing.
With less than seven minutes left to play, Watson took the field for one final time with his teammates. They swayed back and forth in a circle, then broke the huddle and waved in appreciation to the standing ovation in orange that surrounded them.
Fans who may have griped about Watson’s inaccuracy or inconsistency in key moments this season will have some solid lasting memories from their final in-person viewing of the Heisman candidate. In one stretch in the first half, he completed seven consecutive throws, including three touchdowns. He then closed out his stint by hitting nine straight passes, including his final three touchdowns.
Deshaun Watson only made 18 career starts in Memorial Stadium. Most people—possibly including Watson himself—will probably think of this one first when recalling his career.
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