Sept. 2, 2006
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -Will Proctor got off to a solid start for Clemson, throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the 18th-ranked Tigers routed Florida Atlantic 54-6 on Saturday.
Proctor waited four seasons behind Charlie Whitehurst for his chance to be Clemson’s starter. And while Proctor stumbled at first, he and the Tigers settled down to put up their highest point total since a 63-17 win over South Carolina in 2003.
The first-time jitters were obvious. Proctor’s first drive ended when he collided with tailback James Davis and fumbled. A series later, Proctor took the Tigers to Florida Atlantic’s 7, but settled for a 25-yard field goal.
But after Proctor’s first two throws were batted down at the line the next drive, he found his rhythm and the Tigers put the game away.
Chansi Stuckey had a 12-yard reception and C.J. Spiller a 10-yarder. Two plays later, Proctor lofted a perfect pass to Stuckey for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Proctor watched Stuckey, the ACC’s top pass-catcher in 2005, tiptoe near the back of the end zone for the TD, then the quarterback pumped his fists in celebration and rushed to hug his receiver.
The most emotion in the first half, though, came from coach Tommy Bowden, who angrily took on four officials after a Tiger fumble ended a second-quarter series and the coach didn’t get the chance for a review.
Bowden rushed the field during a stoppage, then ripped off his headphones and punched the air as he yelled his objections. Bowden continued arguing at least three more times, jawing with field judge Gorham Wood, line judge Kevin Edwards, referee Brad Allen and back judge James Cole.
Bowden’s very loud point proved moot three plays later when Florida Atlantic’s attempt at a hook-and-ladder play was bobbled by tailback B.J. Manley and safety Michael Hamlin recovered for Clemson at the FAU 26. The turnover led to Reggie Merriweather 1-yard touchdown and put Clemson ahead 17-0.
The victory could be costly after linebacker Anthony Waters, their leading tackler last year who considered skipping his senior year for the NFL, was carried off the field with a sprained left knee late in the third quarter and Clemson up 31-6. Waters was expected to have an MRI exam Sunday.
Sean Clayton led the Owls on their most successful first-half drive to Clemson’s 11. But Clemson’s Hamlin stopped that drive as well, with a 74-yard interception return. That led to a 14-yard TD pass from Proctor to Aaron Kelly.
Shad Bryant in 1938 and matched by Bobby Gage 10 years later, although the school lists a missed field goal return of 108 yards in 1968 as its punt mark.
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