In his first career start in Death Valley, Deshaun Watson threw six touchdown passes in a rout of North Carolina during his freshman season. On Saturday, in what could be his last career start in Death Valley, the junior threw six touchdown passes in a 56-7 victory over rival South Carolina.
The 56 points were the second most scored by a Clemson team in the Carolina rivalry, while the 49-point margin is also the second largest in the history of the rivalry.
Watson tied his own Clemson record with three touchdown passes to Mike Williams, one to Jordan Leggett, one to C.J. Fuller and one to Artavis Scott, while throwing for 347 yards on 26 of 32 passing. Watson’s six touchdown passes were also the most by a Clemson quarterback in one game against the Gamecocks, and the most by any quarterback in one game in the 114-year history of the rivalry.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney sent Watson out, along with the Williams and Scott, with a standing ovation when he brought them back on the field after a timeout with 6:49 to play in the game.
Watson just stood in the middle of the field and soaked it all in.
Williams caught three touchdowns to become the first Clemson wide receiver to catch three touchdown passes in one game against USC. Watson also found Leggett, Fuller and Scott for touchdowns.
Running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries and scored on an eight-yard touchdown just before halftime. Williams finished the game with six catches for 100 yards, while Scott had eight for 77 yards. Leggett had three receptions for 58 yards.
It just was not the Tigers’ offense that played well. The defense stuffed the Gamecocks, holding them to 218 total yards.
Carolina (6-6) did not pick up its intial first down until the three-minute mark of the second quarter. The Gamecocks finished the game with 14. They had just three in the first half.
The Tigers (11-1) finished the game with 41 first downs and 622 yards against South Carolina, the most by any Clemson team in the history of the rivalry.
Clemson held the Gamecocks to seven total yards in the opening quarter, while the Tigers had 226 yards in the opening 15 minutes.
Clemson grabbed a 7-0 lead as Williams capped a 47-yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown reception from Watson with 11:08 to play in the quarter.
The Tigers quickly upped the lead to 14-0 on its next possession as Williams caught a slant pass from Watson and then carried three Gamecocks eight yards with him into the end zone with 5:52 to play in the quarter.
Leggett increased the lead to 21-0 with 2:05 to play in the first when he hauled in an 11-yard pass from Watson. Leggett’s touchdown came after the Gamecocks botched a fake punt, giving the Tigers the ball at the USC 32. Clemson needed just five plays to cash in on the good field position.
Gallman made the score 28-0 with 3:06 to go in the first half thanks to a nifty eight-yard run. That capped a 6-play, 45-yard drive for the Tigers.
Williams capped the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown reception from Watson. The drive covered 80 yards in six plays. Williams touchdown came with eight seconds to play in the half.
Fuller and Scott caught touchdown passes in the third quarter to make the score 49-7, while Kelly Bryant scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Clemson will play Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game next Saturday in Orlando, Florida.
–Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY