TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Third-ranked Clemson escaped Doak Campbell Stadium with its first road victory in Tallahassee since 2006 on Saturday evening with a thrilling 37-34 win over No. 14 Florida State.
The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) had a lead until running back Dalvin Cook got hot in the third quarter, but Clemson responded with three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to win the game.
Here is what we heard:
Head coach Dabo Swinney was incredibly happy following the game to be able to leave Florida State with a win.
“I’m glad to finally walk into this room and be happy. It’s been a long time coming. I can tell you that,” he said. “First of all, I don’t know how you can expect anything less from Clemson versus Florida State. What a game, just an incredibly hard-fought game. Both teams had an unbelievable will to win the football game, and we just made one more play than they did. We knew we’d get the best version of Florida State that there possibly could be. So give them a lot of credit.”
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow said he could not describe the feeling.
“It was an unreal experience and one we will never forget,” the sophomore said. “We played poorly at stretches in the game but when we had to have it, on our last two drives, we put it in the end zone.”
Renfrow finished the game with 62 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. His early touchdown grab helped Clemson take a two-score lead heading into the second quarter.
“I feel like we earned it, but we did enough to lose. It is kind of a surreal experience, just an out-of-body experience,” he said.
Each score was crucial in Clemson’s close victory. However, it was Jordan Leggett’s 34-yard touchdown reception that won the game for the Tigers. Leggett caught three passes on that final drive for 70 yards, and he left Tallahassee with 122 receiving yards on the night — a new career high.
“It was definitely a big drive for me, and things just ended up being a lot open. It definitely worked out for me in the middle of the field the whole time,” the senior said.
Wide receiver Mike Williams caught the two-point conversion following Leggett’s score, and he noted that the coverage on him opened up the game for Leggett.
“They were playing a lot of safety over me, so Jordan (Leggett) knew that he had a great opportunity to get open and make some plays,” Williams said.
Running back Wayne Gallman had two scores of his own in his first game back after receiving a concussion in the NC State game.
“I have had so much energy these past two weeks that I just have not been able to contain myself, so getting back out there was really good because at NC State, I hated being on the sidelines and not playing,” Gallman said.
Although Florida State took the lead in the second half, Gallman never doubted his team’s ability to come back and win the game.
“We kept our composure. We always know that if we are down, there is always a way. We are confident in each other, and we know that with Deshaun (Watson) back there and the offensive line we have and the wide receivers, including me, we can all make something happen,” he said.
Although Leggett put Clemson on top, there was still time left on the clock for Florida State to fire back. However, Clemson’s defense took the Seminoles out of field goal range after back-to-back procedural penalties and sacks by freshman defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and linebacker Ben Boulware.
“Coach put me out there for a reason and he trusted me. I just needed to go out there and prove that I care about my teammates and just give those two plays my all, and just know what I was doing out there, paying attention to things I did earlier in the game,” Lawrence said. “The defense stresses every week to try to be great and make the plays that we need to make.”
The Clemson defense finished the game with six sacks on FSU quarterback Deondre Francois.