Behind the play of Will Shipley and a dominant defensive effort, Clemson heads into halftime with a 17-10 lead over No. 10 Wake Forest.
Needing to set the tone defensively, Clemson came right out of the gate and punched Wake Forest’s offense in the mouth. On the first play from scrimmage, James Skalski sacked Sam Hartman for a loss of six yards.
That was the theme for much of the first half, although, Hartman was able to get into a rhythm in the second quarter.
Clemson’s defensive line was in the backfield on nearly every play, making life uncomfortable for Hartman, who was sacked a total of five times in the first half. While Hartman completed 17-of-27 passes with 194 yards passing, he also had nine rushes for -22 yards. The Demon Deacons totaled zero rushing yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.
Additionally, Hartman was intercepted by Clemson junior Andrew Booth, Jr. on Third-and-18, just a couple of seconds before halftime.
On the other hand, Clemson’s offense had a chance to bury a porous Wake Forest defense, but self-inflicted wounds, including a Kobe Pace fumble, prevented that from happening.
Still, the Tigers offense was able to execute at will, despite those mistakes.
Clemson outgained Wake 260-194 in the first half.
Will Shipley accounted for both of Clemson’s first-half touchdowns. The true freshman running back scored Clemson’s first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard rush on 4th-and-1 from the goal line. His next touchdown came just a couple of plays after he limped off the field. He returned to successfully execute a trick play to Davis Allen.
Shipley was in the backfield, along with defenders Ruke Orhorhoro and Myles Murphy, while D.J. Uiagalelei went into motion. Then, Shipley took the direct snap and found Allen for a two-yard touchdown on a jump pass, giving Clemson a 17-3 lead.
The Demon Deacons would answer on the ensuing drive. Wake Forest went 75 yards in just under four minutes to cut Clemson’s lead to seven. Christian Turner found the endzone in the wildcat formation on third-and-goal to give Wake its first touchdown of the game.
While Uiagalelei wasn’t the sharpest he’s been, he still made enough plays to help the Tigers take command of the first half. He did, however, throw his eighth interception of the season on an overthrow to Dacari Collins, in which the pass bounced off the true freshman receiver’s helmet and into the waiting, diving hands of Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha.
He finished the first half, completing 9-of-17 passes with 132 yards and an interception. He also combined with Shipley and Pace to rush for 127 yards on 22 carries. Pace, of course, led the way with 78 rushing yards on 10 carries.
As mentioned previously, Clemson’s lead should’ve likely been larger than it was. Between two offensive turnovers and a special teams blunder, Clemson allowed the Demon Deacons to stay in Saturday’s game.
At one point, Will Brown returned a punt to give Clemson a temporary 16-0 lead, but it was determined that he called for a fair catch. On the initial replay, it showed that the senior punt returner half waved his hand, which was enough to justify the ruling of a fair catch.
Clemson will receive the second-half opening kickoff.
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