By Lee Lance.
Not to sound too dramatic here, but it has been a few years since the Tigers defeated the Yellow Jackets, and Dabo Swinney had never done it as Clemson’s head man either, until today.
The Tigers jumped out quickly to a 7-0 lead when Andre Ellington took his first carry of the ball game 55 yards to the house with just one minute and fifty-three second elapsed in the first quarter.
After holding Georgia Tech to a punt, the Tigers had another nice drive, going 33 yards on eight plays in 3:25, but the 29 yard field goal attempt by Catanzaro would go wide left, leaving the Tigers with still just a seven point lead and the Jackets taking over at the Clemson 20 yard line.
Georgia Tech moved the ball 40 yards on four plays, taking it to the Tiger 40 before again being forced to punt by Kevin Steele’s Tiger defense, this one resulting in a touchback.
The Tigers were then able to stretch the lead ever so slightly by putting together another scoring drive. This one would be 11 plays covering 60 yards and was hi-lighted by a 23 yard pass from Kyle Parker to DeAndre Hopkins, a play that spotted the ball directly at midfield. The Tiger’s drive eventually stalled at the 20 yard line and from there Catanzaro would boot the field goal, this one true to the uprights, putting Clemson up 10-0.
The score remained 10-0 after the end of one full quarter of play, but not for long. Just one minute and ten seconds into quarter number two, the Tigers struck again, and again it was Andre Ellington doing the biggest damage to the Jacket’s defense. Ellington took the ball from the Jackets 42 yard line to the house for the touchdown, putting the Tigers up 17-0 with over 13 minutes still to go in the first half.
After turning Tech over on downs, the Tigers couldn’t do much either and punted it back to the Jackets, with the punt sailing into the end zone for the touchback. Nesbitt and the Tech offense took over with just under five minutes left in the first half and put together their best drive of the game to that point, going 71 yards on 15 plays and finally denting the score board with a field goal by Scott Blair.
Many folks remember back to the Auburn game and remember what happened in that first half and right before half time, and especially what happened after half time. Everyone in orange or purple sure did remember, as there seemed to be a collective gasp when folks realized what the score at the half would be.
To make matters seem worse, the Tigers had to kick off to the Jackets to start the second half too, another similarity to the Auburn game of earlier in the season.
Could the Jackets take follow up the scoring drive at the end of the first half with another one to start the second and keep the momentum seemingly on their side?
They would get their chance when BJ Bostic took the Tiger’s opening kick off of the half back 21 yards from the four, giving the Jackets first down at the 25 yard line. From there, the Jackets drove the ball 66 yards on 11 plays in just over five minutes, but once again the Tiger’s defense came up with big stop when Corico Hawkins sacked Josh Nesbitt at the nine yard line on a third and four play. The Jackets would get points, however, on another field goal by Scott Blair, this one 26 yards.
With 9:46 left in the third quarter, the score was now Clemson 17, Georgia Tech 6.
Clemson didn’t wait long to answer back and make sure not to lose too much momentum, and drove the ball 69 yards on 8 plays, hi-lighted by a 35 yard pass from Parker to Harper that moved the ball down to the Tech 14 yard line.
After Diehl and Ellington combined for four yards on the next two plays, Parker hit Ellington for a ten yard touchdown pass and Catanzaro followed it up with the extra point, putting the Tigers back up by three possessions, 24-6.
After a 66 yard kickoff by Benton and an 18 yard return to the Tech 22 by Bostic, the Jackets put together another scoring drive, going 78 yards in 14 plays and capping off the touchdown drive with a pass from Nesbett to Allen, a ten yard score.
Heading into the fourth quarter with a 24-13 lead, the Tigers would look to keep things rolling and keep their defense hot. After holding tech scoreless on their first possession of the quarter, the Tigers drove 15 plays covering 64 yards, running over seven minutes off of the clock in the process, and scoring three points on another Catanzaro field goal, this one from 21 yards out to give the Tigers their final score and the 27-13 lead.
On Tech’s next possesion and what looked to be it’s last, Josh Nesbitt threw a deep ball and was intercepted by Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel. Following the interception, the Tigers ran the last 3:13 second off of the clock, finally taking it’s first victory over Georgia Tech since the 2006 season, winning it 27-13.
Stay Tuned to TheClemsonInsider.com for much more coming from tonight’s coverage including stats, interviews, video, and audio.