ORLANDO, Fla. — Clemson came out clicking on all cylinders in the first quarter, but a Jerod Evans 11-yard run with 4:09 to play in the opening half brought No. 18 Virginia Tech with seven points, 21-14, at the break.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing. Both of Watson’s touchdowns went to tight end Jordan Leggett – a 21-yard pass in the first quarter and a 10-yard toss in the second quarter.
The Tigers outgained Virginia Tech 202 to 143 in the first 30 minutes. They scored on their first three possessions of the game, but closed the half with two punts before halftime.
Clemson opened the game with a nine-play, 75-yard drive which Watson capped with a three-yard run. That gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 11:47 to play in the first quarter.
The Tigers upped their lead to 14-0 when Watson found a wide open Jordan Leggett down the middle of the field for a 21- yard touchdown with 5:57 to play in the first quarter. Watson opened the game by completing his first 10 passes.
The Hokies rallied on the ensuing possession. Thanks to a fake punt as Mitchell Ludwig threw a 20-yard pass to Terrell Edmunds to keep the drive alive. Before that Clemson’s Dorian O’Daniel was flagged for targeting and disqualified after he hit fullback Sam Rogers too high.
Another Clemson penalty on a halfback pass from Rogers cost Clemson on the next play as Cordrea Tankersley was flagged for pass interference on tight end Bucky Hodges. That penalty set up Travon McMillian’s one-yard run with 0:51 seconds to play in the quarter.
Clemson answered the touchdown with one of its own as Watson guided the Tigers on 10-play 75-yard scoring drive, which he capped with his 10-yard pass to Leggett.
Isaiah Ford caught a 53-yard pass from Evans late in the second quarter which keyed the second touchdown of the night for the Hokies as Evans went in from 11 yards out.
Clemson’s defense held the Hokies to seven first downs and 23 yards rushing. The Tigers had three sacks in the first half.