Story by Nikki Hood
DEATH VALLEY: It wasn’t pretty at times, but Clemson got the win Saturday against Miami. The Tigers finished ACC play undefeated after taking down the Canes 40-10 in Death Valley on a perfect fall afternoon. Clemson improved to 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the ACC. Miami dropped to 5-6 and 3-4.
Clemson outgained Miami 447 yards to 98 yards. Miami had 68 yards through the air and 30 yards on the ground. Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 22-of-34 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also carried the ball 17 times for 89 yards and a score.
Davis Allen and Antonio Williams had four catches a piece for 35 and 33 yards, respectively. Jake Briningstool added three catches for 59 yards.
Miami won the toss and elected to defer. The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched methodically down the field, covering 75 yards in 12 plays and taking well over five minutes off the clock. Uiagalelei hit Davis Allen in the back of the endzone for a 7-yard touchdown. With that score, Allen passed Clemson great Bennie Cunningham for sole possession of fifth in Clemson history for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 10.
Allen and Jake Briningstool became the first tight end duo in Clemson history to each score four touchdowns in a season.
The Tigers forced a quick three-and-out by the Canes and once again made scoring look easy. The Tigers marched 57 yards in eight plays, with Uiagalelei finding his way through traffic for the final eight yards and a touchdown for a 14-0 lead with a little over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
RJ Mickens tipped a pass over the middle that was picked off by Jalyn Phillips and returned two yards to the 27-yard line. Six plays later, Clemson cashed in when Uiagalelei faked the handoff and threw back across the field to a wide-open Luke Price for a three-yard touchdown and a 21-0 Clemson lead with just over 10 minutes to play before halftime. It was Price’s first reception of the season and first career touchdown.
After yet another three-and-out by the Canes, Clemson got the ball back on their own nine-yard line with 4:46 to play. Uiagalelei led Clemson on a 14-play drive that covered 76 yards, and BT Potter hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired to put the Tigers ahead 24-0 at intermission.
Miami’s offense gained just eight yards in the first half, the fifth fewest first-half yards by any Power Five team in the last ten years.
The teams traded possessions coming out of the half. Clemson elected to attempt a 59-yard field goal with Potter, but it was short, giving Miami its best starting field position of the night on the 42-yard line.
A 15-yard roughing the passer on Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. and a 27-yard completion to Will Mallory put the Canes on the 16-yard line, but KJ Henry sacked Brown for a loss of 10 yards. Two plays later, Andres Borregales nailed a 44-yard field goal for Miami’s first points of the game. Clemson led 24-3 with 5:55 to play in the third quarter.
After back-to-back Clemson drives ended with turnovers, Clemson’s defense decided to take matters into its own hands. Toriano Pride, Jr. fought through a blocker to sack Brown in the endzone for a nine-yard loss and a safety. Clemson led 26-3 with 1:34 to play in the third quarter.
Uiagalelei lost the ball when he was hit from behind, and the ball was picked up by Miami and returned 26 yards to the 10-yard line. Three plays later, Jake Garcia hit Khalil Brantley for a one-yard touchdown to cut Clemson’s lead to 26-10 with 13:45 to play.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had seen enough after his offense turned the ball over on three consecutive possession, so he gathered the entire offense on the sideline for an impassioned talk.
The offense came out on the next drive and went down the field on eight plays that included a 49-yard catch and run by Briningstool that set up a three-yard Will Shipley touchdown run to extend Clemson’s lead to 33-10 with 4:40 to play.
Kobe Pace added a one-yard touchdown with 16 seconds to play to account for the final points.
Clemson closes the regular season next weekend against South Carolina at noon in Death Valley. The game will be broadcast on ABC.