Seventh-ranked Clemson defeated Georgia Tech, 24-10, on Saturday night in Death Valley. The Tigers improved to 7-1 (5-1 ACC), while the Yellow Jackets fell to 4-3 (3-2).
Here is a look back at how Clemson earned the victory:
The Tigers set the tone early, forcing a Georgia Tech turnover and turning it into seven points. After the Yellow Jackets lost a fumble on their opening drive, Clemson took advantage with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Kelly Bryant to Deon Cain two plays later and less than three minutes into the game.
Georgia Tech cut its deficit to 7-3 with a 25-yard field goal from Brenton King at the 4:53 mark of the first quarter. But it wouldn’t matter much, as the Yellow Jackets didn’t score again until garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Clemson answered King’s field goal with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bryant to Milan Richard late in the first quarter. Travis Etienne later scored on a 2-yard rushing touchdown with 3:26 left in the second quarter to give the Tigers an 18-point lead at halftime.
The Tigers added to the lead on their opening drive of the second half, which ended with a 29-yard field goal from Alex Spence. Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall scored on a 22-yard rush with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin.
What went right?
Perhaps the most positive thing for Clemson is that Bryant’s ankle — which he injured against Wake Forest on Oct. 7 and which hobbled him a week later against Syracuse — didn’t seem to bother him at all against Georgia Tech. The junior was very mobile as he weaved in and out of traffic on a couple of occasions and finished the game with a team-high 67 rushing yards on 12 carries. It was an all-around A-effort for Bryant, who also completed 22 of his 33 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Clemson shut down Marshall. He entered the game as the ACC’s leading rusher with 117.3 yards per game, but was limited to just 55 yards against the Tigers. That includes just 23 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Clemson finished the game with more than 200 yards both rushing and passing. Georgia Tech went just 3-of-15 on third down, while Clemson’s defense posted four sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
What went wrong?
Not much, but Clemson did put the ball on the ground three times. The Tigers only lost one of the fumbles, though it cost them points. The Yellow Jackets turned Etienne’s first-quarter fumble into three points via a field goal from King.
And as good as Clemson was defensively, Brent Venables won’t like the fact his unit allowed KirVonte Benson to rush for 129 yards on 16 attempts (8.1 average). Because of Benson’s performance, Georgia Tech finished with 198 yards on the ground.
The game-changing moment came early in this one, as the Tigers took the life out of the Yellow Jackets from the get-go. Kendall Joseph forced Benson to fumble on Georgia Tech’s opening possession, and the ball was recovered by Van Smith. Two plays later, Bryant found Cain for a 38-yard touchdown connection that gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead before Georgia Tech could look up.