Clemson won the first 29 games in the series with Virginia many by lopsided scores. Saturday, in the first visit by the Tigers to Scott Stadium since 2008, it was like the old Frank Howard-Danny Ford days as a powerful Clemson team mopped up a weak Virgina squad to the tune of 59-10. It’s the Tigers’ most lopsided win over the Cavaliers since a 55-0 victory in 1984. Clemson now leads the series 38-8-1. The teams won’t play again in the regular season until 2020.
The Tigers improve to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the ACC with their 8th straight road victory. The Cavaliers, with their sixth straight loss, fall to 2-7 and 0-5.
It took a little time for Clemson’s offense to get warmed up but the Tigers turned red hot in the final minutes of the first half scoring 21 points in a span of 4:05. It looked like we would have a tight game going into the halftime break with Clemson leading only 14-7 until two big defensive plays by Clemson freshman safety Jayron Kearse changed the flow.
First, he intercepted David Watford at his own 30 and returned it 37 yards to the Virginia 33. The Tigers took advantage of the turnover with a 10 yard pass from Tajh Boyd to Rod McDowell for a 21-7 lead.
On the next Virginia series, Kearse stripped Virgina running back Khalek Shepherd of the football and DeShawn Williams recovered for the Tigers at midfield. The Tigers again cashed in and it was again McDowell doing the honors this time with a 25 yard run for a 28-7 lead.
And if you thought the Tigers were happy with a three touchdown lead in the final minute of the half, you would be wrong. After forcing a punt and starting at their own 14 with :55 left, the Tigers zipped down the field with Boyd picking apart the Virginia defense. He completed 6 passes to 5 different receivers before diving in from the 1 for a touchdown with :13 left n the half and a 35-7 lead.
In the second quarter, the Tigers totaled 185 yards to the Cavaliers 47.
Many of the Virginia fans had seen enough and chose not to return after halftime. And that’s too bad for them because they missed the second longest play in Clemson history. On the Tigers’ first possession of the second half, Boyd faced third and long from his four. No problem. He hit Sammy Watkins in stride streaking down the right sideline for a 96 yard touchdown and a 42-7 lead.
That was Boyd’s last play of the day. The Virginia native, playing just the second game in his home state, finished 24-29 for 377 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He completed his last 9 passes and 14 of his last 15. Boyd also became the ACC’s all time leader in touchdown responsibility with his first scoring pass.
Boyd finished his career 2-0 in the Old Dominion State and 4-0 against his ACC rivals from the state including 3-0 against Virginia Tech. He also picked up his 20th ACC win as a starter breaking a Clemson record.
Watkins had another huge day catching 8 passes for a season high 169 yards and 2 scores. Twelve different Tigers caught passes. McDowell led the rushing attack with 70 yards.
Clemson finished with 610 total yards on 88 plays. That’s the second highest total yard figure of the season for the Tigers topped only by their 624 yards at Syracuse.
The Tiger defense, along with forcing the three turnovers, was in shut down mode holding the Cavaliers to 277 yards. Only the 222 yards gained by Wake Forest tops that performance this season. The Tigers held Watford to 130 yards thru the air a week after he threw for nearly 400 yards.
The Tigers now have a week off to rest and get healthy before hosting Georgia Tech on Thursday night, November 14th. Two Tigers suffered knee injuries against Virginia, running back CJ Davidson and defensive back Ronald Geohaghan. The severity of the injuries has not been announced though Dabo Swinney said after the game he thought Davidson’s was related to his MCL and not his ACL. Also, running back Zac Brooks was held out of the game to give his injured shoulder a rest though he could have played.