Nov. 5, 2005
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Will Proctor made his first Clemson start a successful one, passing for two touchdowns and running for a third in the Tigers’ 49-20 victory over Duke on Saturday.
Proctor spent the past three seasons backing up Clemson star Charlie Whitehurst, who had started 37 straight games for the Tigers (5-4, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) entering this one. But continuing pain in Whitehurst’s throwing shoulder forced him to miss a game for first time since he started against the Blue Devils in 2002.
And Proctor did not disappoint the Homecoming crowd of 77,000 at Death Valley, leading the Tigers to touchdowns on their first two drives.
Then when Clemson blocked a Duke field goal with 32 seconds to go before the half, Proctor directed a drive that finished with his 11-yard scoring pass to Stuckey and put the Tigers up 28-3.
Reggie Merriweather added rushing touchdowns of 19, 8 and 12 yards – the final one with 40 seconds left and Clemson ahead 42-20 – while senior Chansi Stuckey caught the first two TD passes of his career for Clemson, which has won six of its past seven with the Blue Devils.
The best news for Duke? College basketball season starts in a few weeks.
The Blue Devils (1-9, 0-7) have lost seven straight since their lone victory over Division I-AA VMI.
Duke’s freshman quarterback, Zach Asack, hadn’t thrown for more than 111 yards in a game this season. But he ended 26-of-43 for 328 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown to Enon Riley.
Still, even with Whitehurst’s absence, it was a long shot for Duke to win here at Memorial Stadium – something it hasn’t done in 13 tries dating to 1980.
Proctor finished 13-of-21 for 201 yards and led the Tigers to their most points in 20 games since defeating South Carolina 63-17 in November 2003. Merriweather had 104 yards rushing, his third straight 100-yard game.
The Blue Devils managed only 42 rushing in the first half and never slowed couldn’t slow down a jazzed-up Proctor.
He leaped high after he sneaked in from a yard out to put Clemson ahead 7-0, accepting congratulations from Whitehurst when he returned to the sidelines.
After Proctor found a wide-open Stuckey for a 40-yard scoring pass to extend Clemson’s lead to 35-10, the quarterback looked toward the Tigers bench and cocked his arms back and forth in celebration.
The Tigers and coach Tommy Bowden might need that enthusiasm down the stretch. They must defeat either Florida State next Saturday in the seventh Bowden Bowl or the rival Gamecocks and their new coach Steve Spurrier in two weeks to qualify for the postseason.
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