Oct. 22, 2011
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CLEMSON, SC – It was only fitting that on the day Clemson was honoring its 1981 National Championship football team at Death Valley, the 2011 Clemson Tigers tied one of its records.
The seventh-ranked Tigers tied a school record for points in a quarter with 35 in the third, while the defense put on a 1981workman-like effort by forcing six turnovers in a 59-38 victory over North Carolina.
The 1981 team scored 35 points in the second quarter of its 82-24 victory over Wake Forest on Halloween of that year. The 2011 Tigers also joined the 1981 team as well as the 1948 and 2000 teams as the only squads to start a football season with eight straight wins.
“It was real special to do that today,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “I got a chance to spend some time with those guys (Friday) night… They made a decision 30 years ago, and said `Why not Clemson? Why not?’ That’s what I say, `Why not? Why not Clemson? Why can’t we be special?’
“We have been special before and we will be special again. They are enjoying our team. Even though our style might be different, hopefully we can get the same results. Who knows how good we can be? I don’t know if they knew how good they would be at this time.”
The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) were really good Saturday in front of 79,000 fans and a national television audience. Clemson amassed 450 yards of offense, with 375 of those coming from quarterback Tajh Boyd, who tied a school-record with five touchdown passes, while also tying another record with six touchdown responsibilities.
“We got the potential for this to be a great season, but we are not finished yet,” the redshirt sophomore said.
North Carolina (5-3, 1-3 ACC) wanted the Tigers to be finished after the third quarter. Clemson came out of the locker room at halftime holding a 24-17 lead, but Boyd, with the help of his defense, took advantage of a couple of Tar Heel mistakes to break open the game.
Boyd, who threw for 367 yards, put the first touchdown of the quarter up with a one-yard sneak to give Clemson a 31-17 lead with 10:02 play. Following one of UNC’s six turnovers, the Tigers got their second touchdown on a 12-yard Boyd to Brandon Ford pass just 15 seconds later.
“The defense gave us some good opportunities to score,” Boyd said. “That shows you what kind of offense this can become when things are completely put together. Some guys made some key plays, and I’m proud of them.”
Everyone continued to be proud of Boyd, who continued his onslaught on the Tigers’ next possession when he threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins, who tied an ACC freshman record with his ninth touchdown of the season.
The Tigers got their fourth touchdown of the quarter moments later thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to tight end Dwayne Allen. Less than two minutes later, defensive end Kourtnei Brown picked up a fumble and rumbled 26 yards for the record-tying points, and a 59-24 lead with 14 seconds to play in the quarter.
Brown became the first defensive lineman since 1954 (Walt Larraway vs. The Citadel) to score two touchdowns in the same game. He had a 20-yard interception return in the second quarter that gave Clemson a 24-10 advantage at the time. “That was the difference in the game,” Swinney said in regards to scoring 35-third quarter points.
Boyd threw touchdown passes of 25 and 29 yards to DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant in the first half, while kicker Chandler Catanzaro added a 39-yard field goal to stake Clemson to its seven-point halftime lead. Then the third quarter started and history repeated itself.
“We are 8-0 and only four teams in the history of Clemson football have been 8-0 and one of those teams was the 1981 team,” Swinney said. “That made it special because one team was in the stands and the other was on the field.
“It was a special day for Clemson all the way around.”
By Will Vandervort, IPTAY Media
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