Clemson vs. Wake Forest Series
Last Year vs. Wake ForestClemson 31, Wake Forest 28 – Clemson Memorial Stadium There is a sign that is displayed in the Clemson locker room that reads, “Never, ever, ever give up.”
The #9 Tigers obeyed that message to their fullest in Death Valley as Chandler Catanzaro booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired to complete one of the best comebacks in Clemson history. It also clinched the ACC Atlantic Division Championship at the same time.
Catanzaro’s game-winner lifted Clemson to a 31-28 victory over Wake Forest, who led by 14 points following Brandon Pendergrass’ 33-yard touchdown run with 5:32 left in the third quarter. It was the third time this season the Tigers rallied from 14 or more points to earn a win. Clemson had overcome a 14-point deficit to win just nine times in 115 previous seasons.
Thanks to a 50-yard punt return for a score by Mike Campanaro and two turnovers that led to Pendergrass scores, Wake Forest built a 28-14 lead in the third quarter.
Tajh Boyd led the comeback by answering Pendergrass’ second third-quarter score with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Ford, who had three receptions for 51 yards. That touchdown capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive that saw Boyd connect on 5-5 passes for 58 yards thanks in large part to the blocking of center Dalton Freeman, who was named ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week.
It was a nice bounce-back for Boyd, whose interception on the previous drive set up Pendergrass’ 33-yard score. Boyd finished the game 27-43 passing for 343 yards and two touchdowns, but until that final drive in the third quarter, he had not played as well as he had through the first nine games of the season.
After getting the ball back, Clemson moved from the shadow of its own goal line to its own 33, but faced a fourth-and-inches. Swinney elected to go for it, but Boyd was stuffed.
Wake Forest’s Jimmy Newman then missed wide-left on a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 8:45 remaining in the game, giving Clemson new life.
“After that, I tried to put the ball in our playmakers’ hands, and that’s all I can ask for,” added Boyd. “I’m glad they made plays.”
Those plays consisted of a third-down pass to DeAndre Hopkins, then an eight-yard pass to Jaron Brown and a 20-yard pass to Ford, which set the Tigers up at the Wake Forest 12. Two plays later, Boyd connected with Brown for 10 yards over the middle for the equalizing score with 5:27 left in the game.
Clemson did all of this after Sammy Watkins, who became just the fourth Tiger to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season, left the game with a shoulder injury in the third quarter.
With the score tied, it became the defense’s turn to step up. After a disappointing third quarter in which it allowed Pendergrass to reach 100 yards in the game after his two touchdown runs, it held the Demon Deacons to only five yards of offense on their last two drives.
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