By Will Vandervort.
Boyd throws for 455 yards and five touchdowns
By Will Vandervort
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For a little while in the third quarter Saturday, third-ranked Clemson gave Syracuse fans a glimmer of hope. But in one flick of the wrist quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins ended all hope of a comeback.
Boyd hit Watkins in stride for a 91-yard touchdown pass—the second longest play in school history—to clinch a 49-14 victory over the Orange.
Up until that point in the third quarter, the Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) had floundered. Clemson had only two total yards before Boyd hit Watkins with the long pass for the decisive touchdown. Syracuse had stolen some momentum after Prince-Tyson Gulley scampered 28 yards for a touchdown to open the second half.
The Orange, playing in their first ACC game, then forced a three-and-out and had Clemson on its heels. After a Clemson stop, an interception by strong safety Richard Desir on the far sideline set them up for a possible score at the Clemson 46, but kicker Ryan Norton missed a 42-yard field goal a few plays later.
The Tigers again struggled to get anything going as Boyd was sacked by Marquis Smith for a six-yard loss on third down.
The ‘Cuse (2-3, 0-1) moved the ball to the Clemson 13, but on fourth-and-four, Terrel Hunt’s pass to Chris Clark fell incomplete. Two plays later, Boyd had enough and found Watkins streaking down the field for the game-clinching score.
Though he was picked off twice—ending a school-record 187 passes without an interception—he still threw five touchdowns, while completing 20 of 27 passes to break his own school record for 455 yards. His five touchdown passes also tied his record for TD tosses in a game.
Boyd was nearly flawless in the first half, as he guided the third-ranked Tigers to five touchdowns, while throwing for 363 yards and four scores. Clemson led 35-7 at the break.
For the second week in a row, the Tigers scored on the game’s third play from scrimmage. This time Boyd used Watkins as a decoy and Adam Humphries streaked down the seam for a 60-yard scoring pass just 38 seconds into the game.
Clemson struck again on its third possession of the game. On second-and-nine from the Syracuse 19-yard line, Boyd threw a perfect pass to Watkins’ back shoulder to set up Zac Brooks for a one-yard touchdown run and 14-0 lead with 4:07 to play in the first quarter.
On the very next Tigers’ possession, Boyd hit Humphries for a second time for a touchdown, this time for 42 yards and a 21-0 lead with 15 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Boyd continued his onslaught in the second quarter when he hit Stanton Seckinger for a 17-yard scoring pass and a 28-7 lead. That touchdown pass came right after the Orange’s Jerome Smith rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown.
Boyd put the Tigers up 35-7 with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant with 7:37 left in the half.
Clemson had a couple of chances to put more points on the board before halftime. Boyd threw high to Bryant inside the 10-yardline on one drive and Julian Whigham made a spectacular interception at the four-yard line to end the threat.
On the Tigers’ next possession they moved to the five-yard line before Boyd was sacked on fourth-and-five to end that threat with no points.
Whatever momentum Syracuse had ended when Boyd and Watkins decided they had enough with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter.