ORLANDO, Fla. – With a 42-35 victory over No. 18 Virginia Tech on Saturday night, No. 3 Clemson secured its second consecutive ACC Championship for the first time in 28 years. Head coach Dabo Swinney and several reflected on what the win meant for them.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney said Virginia Tech played Clemson hard, but he was proud of his team for finding a way to win.
“That was a special moment to celebrate with our team and just proud of them. That’s what championship football is all about. When you’re in champion game, there’s an opponent, and they got here for a reason, and I just want to congratulate Virginia Tech because we could just not put them away. I mean, we were up three touchdowns, two touch- downs, and it just never seemed like enough,” Swinney said. “I’m proud of our guys, though. I’m proud of our team. Happy for our seniors, happy for our fans. This was special.”
This senior class has now surpassed last year’s senior class for the number of career wins.
“This was our seniors’ 47th win. I mean, just unbelievable the career they’ve had. They’re the winningest senior class in the history of the school now, and they did it in grand fashion on a big stage to win the 16th ACC title,” Swinney said.
Quarterback and ACC Championship MVP, Deshaun Watson, said winning this ACC Championship proved to be even more exciting than winning last year’s title due to all Clemson has gone through this season to accomplish its goals.
“Both times it was pretty sweet, but I think this one is more sweet because it’s some- thing we haven’t done in 28 years, win back to back championships, and we really had to earn it. A lot of guys just putting out the work, and just the senior class being able to step in and win our 47th game in our career and, you know, get the ACC Champion- ship. So both was pretty sweet, but I think this one was just a little bit sweeter,”
Linebacker Ben Boulware said he didn’t want to miss a moment of the remainder of his time as a Clemson player.
“At the end of the day I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m embracing this opportunity,” Boulware said. “I’m exhausting every moment. I’m embracing it. The sand is running out quick so I’m trying to exhaust every moment. I’m just happy to be a part of this team and this senior class.”
While tight end Jordan Leggett could have left for the draft last year, he chose to remain at Clemson through his senior season for the opportunity to play in games like these.
“I think I made the best decision. With the position that we’re in now, we have to chance to go fight for the post season again. Hopefully got to the playoffs then go to the national championship. That’s really what I came back for and I believed in this team the whole time,” Leggett said.
Senior corner Cordrea Tankersley made two interceptions in the title game including one on Virginia Tech’s final fourth down. He sad he knew Clemson needed to make those type of plays, and he was thankful to win another Championship in his last season.
“We needed a turnover. We wanted to win the turn- over margin. The only way we knew we could win the game was if we won the turnover margin. Credit to our defensive line for getting pressure,” Tankersley said. “I give credit to Virginia Tech. They fought really hard. They gave us everything they had. We just came out on top today. To win the ACC Championship my senior year is a blessed moment.”