Clemson remains alive in the race for the national championship after a 59-38 win over North Carolina Saturday afternoon at Death Valley in front of 79,000 fans including members of the 1981 National Championship team who were honored for the 30th anniversary year. And those players had to be impressed by what they saw.
The offense produced six productions, defensive end Kourtnei Brown scored two touchdowns, and the Tigers smashed the Tar Heels with a 35 point third quarter in which they totaled 196 yards and ran 27 plays. Conversely, North Carolina had 11 plays in the quarter for 29 yards.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris dialed up his passing game against the Tar Heels figuring their talented front seven would be too tough to manufacture a running game against. Tajh Boyd was not great…he had 19 incompletions…but he threw touchdown passes to five different receivers, and he ran for a score.
Nuke Hopkins led the receivers with 9 catches for a career high 157 yards. Sammy Watkins added 8 catches for 91 yards and had another 96 yards in kickoff returns. And Dwayne Allen had 6 catches for 51 yards. Each scored a touchdown along with Martavis Bryant and Brandon Ford.
The Tiger defense gave up 418 yards but was stout during the decisive third quarter. 159 of those yards game against mostly back up players in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of reach.
Senior defensive end Brown intercepted a swing pass in the second quarter and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, and added a 26 yard fumble return for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Those were part of six turnovers Kevin Steele’s bunch created.
The Tigers also held the Tar Heels to just 102 rushing yards, their second lowest total of the season. Freshman Giovani Bernard, who came into the game with five straight games of 100 yards or more, was held to just 44 yards on 11 carries.
The Tigers will play at Georgia Tech next Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets fell at Miami Saturday and will be out to snap a two game losing streak.