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Final: Clemson 31, Wake Forest 23

Final: Clemson 31, Wake Forest 23

Brian Mance caused a fumble at the Clemson goaline with less than two minutes left that gave the Tigers possession and preserved a 31-23 victory in front of a Homecoming crowd of 81,000 at Death Vallery Saturday night.

On its first possession of the fourth quarter, Clemson drove the ball eight plays for 48 yards, thanks in large part to a 30-yard pass play from Willie Simmons to J.J. McKelvey. Aaron Hunt kicked a 34-yard field goal to give Clemson a 24-23 lead with 9:38 remaining in the game.

The defense came up big again, this time with Altroy Bodrick making an interception at the Tiger 42-yard line. Clemson moved into Demon Deacon territory and lined up for a field goal on 4th down inside the 20-yard line. But Tommy Bowden went to his bag of tricks and called for a fake field goal in which holder Jeff Scott ran for four yards and a first down at the 7-yard line. Rambert scored on a 3-yard run and Hunt’s extra point gave Clemson a 31-23 lead with 3:02 remaining.

Wake Forest threatened by driving deep into Clemson territory. On 3rd-and-2 from the Clemson 18-yard line, Chris Barclay ran straight up the middle and looked to make it all the way to the endzone when cornerback Brian Mance stripped the ball loose. The ball bounced around before going out of the back of the endzone, giving Clemson possession and the victory.

Wake Forest picked up where it left off in its first possession of the third quarter. Fabian Davis took an end around 51 yards deep into Clemson territory to set up a touchdown run and a 23-14 lead.

The Clemson offense could not muster any scoring for most of the period, but the defense stood tall. Freshman Justin Miller, making his first start as a Tiger, intercepted a deep pass attempt and returned the ball 24 yards. On Wake’s next possession, Donnell Washington’s monster hit caused a fumble that was recovered by Travis Pugh inside the Wake 30-yard line.

The offense continued to struggle even with the good field position, but Wake Forest committed a pass interference penalty in the endzone on 3rd and long to give the Tigers a second chance. Clemson took advantage and drove to the endzone on Bernard Rambert’s two-yard touchdown to make it a 23-21 game.

With the crowd loud and the momentum with the Tigers, Brian Mance made a leaping interception on at the Tiger 40-yard line in which he placed both feet inbounds before going out of bounds. Clemson punted the ball away three plays later and the Demon Deacons held possession on their own 30-yard line at the turn of the quarter.

Facing 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, running back Ovie Mughelli punched it in to give Wake Forest its first lead, 10-7, early in the second quarter. The play capped a16-play, 92-yard drive that ate up 4:42 off the clock. After a Clemson went three-and-out with Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, Winosky kicked a 40-yard field goal to push the Wake advantage to 13-7.

Jim Grobe’s team put together another long, time-consuming drive in the quarter, once again aided by a Clemson personal foul penalty and capped off by a Winosky 26-yard field goal. The 10-play, 51 yard drive took up 4:41 and gave the Demon Deacons a 16-7 lead with 3:51 left.

The Tiger offense once again sputtered when it regained possession and punted the ball away after three plays. However, the defense held, giving the offense once last chance before halftime. The unit awoke to go 65 yards in just 1:15 seconds in which Simmons completed all five of his passes. Yusef Kelly ran it in from 1-yard out with just eight seconds on the clock to cut the deficit to 16-14 at halftime.

Clemson has scored in six of its seven games this year with less than 80 seconds remaining before halftime.

Clemson began the game strong, forcing Wake Forest to punt after the Deacons picked up a first down. The offense then went right to work and drove 61 yards in 1:50. The six-play drive was capped off by A 12-yard touchdown run by quarterback Willie Simmons, who also completed two of his three passes on the drive. The rushing touchdown was the first of Simmons’ career.

Wake Forest responded with a drive of its own. The Deacon offense drove 69 yards down the field, thanks in part to facemask and personal foul penalties on the Tiger defense. Kicker Matt Winosky converted a 28-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game.

Wake Forest mounted another scoring threat at the end of the period. The Demon Deacons had 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard line at the turn of the quarter.

Wake Forest Photo Gallery
John Leake and Nick Eason combine to stuff the run.

Quarterback Willie Simmons hands off to Bernard Rambert’s.Derrick Hamilton is corraled by Quintin Williams. Thomas grabs ahold of Chris Barclay.

The deep ball intended for Jackie Robinson sails long.

Kelvin Morris brings down Jason Anderson.

Fabian Davis goes up high for the catch in front of Travis Pugh.