ATLANTA — Clelin Ferrell has a message for Clemson co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott regarding his first-quarter touchdown in the second-ranked Tigers’ 49-21 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
“It felt good, man! It felt great,” Clemson’s defensive end said afterward. “I’m sorry it had to take that long. They forced me into it. I don’t have a trick play or something. That’s a shout out to Coach Elliott and Coach Scott on that.”
Of course, Ferrell is referring to the trick plays the Clemson coaches have called in the past for friend and defensive line teammate Christian Wilkins.
Though the touchdown talk from the All-American defensive end was tongue in check, there was nothing funny about the way in which Ferrell found himself in the end zone holding on to a loose football for his first career touchdown.
With the game still scoreless late in the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets (1-3, 0-2 ACC) found themselves facing third down-and-20 on their own 19-yard line. Running back Qua Searcy fumbled the pitch from quarterback TaQuon Marshall after being run over by Clemson linebacker Tre Lamar.
Ironically, it was Wilkins who picked up the loose football and began to run with it. However, Wilkins fumbled the ball as well and the ball got kicked around before finally rolling into the end zone where Ferrell fell on top of it for the game’s first touchdown.
“It was definitely a big play in the game and a big momentum changer,” Ferrell said. “I was just happy to fall on it at the time I did. A shout out to Tre to for forcing it. It was a really big play.”
The play gave Clemson a 7-0 lead with 3:42 in the first quarter. From there, the Tigers cruised to one of its easiest wins ever at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“It took sometime early in the game, but I feel like we settled into things on the second series,” Ferrell said.
Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) held Georgia Tech to 203 total yards, including just 146 on the ground. The Yellow Jackets averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. Were sacked four times and tackled behind the line of scrimmage 10 times overall.
Though the one turnover the Tigers got was big, they wasted several other opportunities as Tech put the ball on the ground a total of eight times.
“That is tough,” Ferrell said. “It is really hard to force a fumble or put the ball on the ground in general. So, anytime you come up with the ball it is big because you want to make the most of those opportunities.
“That in general is something we want to capitalize on. They put the ball on the ground eight times and we only came up with it once it is a little frustrating. It’s a matter that once you make the play, it does not mean the play is over, so you have to find the ball and constantly try to pay attention to it.”
Ferrell’s touchdown was the first touchdown by a Clemson defensive lineman while on defense since Carlos Watkins’ pick-six against Appalachian State on Sept. 12, 2015.
“We had a couple of them. There were some balls on the ground inside the 10-yard line, but it was fun to watch,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “It is always good to get a defensive touchdown. No doubt.”
Clemson has now forced a takeaway in 12 consecutive contests, the program’s longest streak since a 15-game stretch across the 2012-13 seasons.