Eric Sampson’s interception deep in Tiger territory with just over a minute left thwarted a potential game-winning score and sealed a 24-19 victory for Clemson before 78,000 fans at Death Valley on Saturday.
The rain poured down at kickoff, but the Tiger offense was not bothered by the conditions early. Clemson orchestrated a 15-play, 53-yard drive that ate up 7:47 off the clock. Aaron Hunt capped the drive with a 34-yard field goal that put his team on top 3-0.
After the Clemson defense stopped Georgia Tech on its first attempt, Derrick Hamilton provided the biggest play of the season thus far. He took a handoff from Willie Simmons and made a series of cuts to reverse his field and break open. The sophomore raced 77 yards for a score, thanks to a downfield block by Simmons at the 10-yard line. The run was the longest by a Tiger since 1993 when Derrick Witherspoon had a 77-yard rush against Maryland in 1993 and it extended the margin to 10-0.
The Yellow Jackets responded immediately on the next play from scrimmage. Tony Hollings ran 72 yards to the endzone the longest run for Tech since Jimmy Lincoln went 75 yards against Furman in 1993. . A bad snap prevented Tech from kicking the extra point, making it a 10-6 game Eric Sampson’s interception deep in Tiger territory with just over a minute left thwarted a potential game-winning score and sealed a 24-19 victory for Clemson before 78,000 fans at Death Valley on Saturday.
At the end of the quarter, Recardo Wimbush jarred the ball loose from Tye Hill and Tech recovered on the 49-yard line.
In the middle of the second quarter, Georgia Tech drove the ball down the field behind the running of Hines. But after crossing the Clemson 35-yard line, the drive stalled thanks to a 17-yard sack by defensive end Nick Eason. Clemson responded with a drive of its own, but Hunt?s 49-yard field goal attempt fell short.
With under two minutes left in the half, Hamilton struck again. He fielded a 52-yard punt, weaved his way through a sea of Tech defenders, and took the ball 79 yards to the 5-yard line. He finished the half with 245 all-purpose yards, already the eighth-best single game total in Clemson history.
The offense then faced 4th-and-goalfrom the two-yard line when Simmons rolled out in a bootleg. Two Tech defenders were ready to meet him at the goaline, but the quarterback flipped the ball over them to Bobby Williamson, who hauled the ball in for his first career touchdown. The score with 38 seconds left gave the Tigers a 17-6 lead heading into halftime.
The Tiger offense continued to click in the second half. On its first possession, Clemson marched 66 yards in six plays. To cap the drive, Simmons rolled out of the pocket and ignored the open field in front of him, instead choosing to float a pass down the field to Tony Elliot, whose 44-yard touchdown reception was the first of his career.
Georgia Tech responded with its second touchdown of the game. The Yellow Jackets mounted an 11-play, 78-yard drive in which they converted all three of their third downs. John Paul Foschi scored on a 7-yard pass to make it a 24-13 ballgame.
On the ensuing possession Tech?s Tony Hargrove recovered a Simmons fumble at the Clemson 46-yard line. But two plays later, cornerback Rodney Thomas. The ball turned over again two plays later when Kelly Rhino picked off a Simmons pass at the Tech 48-yard line. The Clemson defense held off the Yellow Jackets, and the Tiger offense held possession at the turn of the quarter.
After trading punts for most of the quarter, Tech compiled 59-yard drive ending in a 1-yard touchdown run by Hollings with 3:43 left. The two-point conversion failed, making the score 24-19.
The Clemson offense took the ball into Georgia Tech territory but a bad snap was recovered by the Yellow Jackets with 2:07 remaining. They were charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that pushed the ball back to the Tech 38-yard line.
Suggs completed consecutive passes to put his team on the Clemson 30-yard line. On the next play, Eric Sampson’s picked off a Suggs pass with 1:12 remaining to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Quarterback Willie Simmons is taken down by the YellowJacket defense. Simmons delivers a pass in the driving rain. KelvinMorris is helped off the field after bruising his knee. He wouldreturn.
Derrick Hamilton appears to be cornered on the punt return, but he turned it into a 79-yard play.
Defensive ends Khaleed Vaughan and Bryant McNeal (bottom) takedown Tech QB A.J. Suggs.
McNeal tries to corral Tony Hollings with Donnel Washington in pursuit.
Brian Mance tries to pick off a pass in the third quarter.
Simmons is sandwiched by the Tech defense.
Eric Meekins grabs a gold of Hollings.
Rodney Thomas and John Leake combine to stuff the Yellow Jackets at the goaline.
February 14, 2019
February 6, 2019