Note: The following appears in the Louisville football gameday program.
Editor’s Note – For each program in 2022, Tim Bourret chronicles a great individual performance in Clemson history. Today is the fifth installment.
When asked what he remembers about the 2012 Clemson vs. NC State game, Tajh Boyd said with a chuckle, “That was a three Red Bull game for Coach Chad Morris.”
The pace of that Nov. 17, 2012 contest at Death Valley was frantic, as both offenses were prolific in the Tigers’ 62-48 victory.
Records were broken left and right, and many still stand today. Boyd was the prime recordsetter with five passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns. The eight touchdowns in terms of touchdown responsibility still stand as the Clemson record, and that mark is the standard in an ACC game. (Louisville’s Lamar Jackson had eight against Charlotte in 2016.)
Boyd finished the game completing 30-44 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 18 carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 529 yards of total offense, second most in a game in Tiger history and still the most in a victory. It is the only time a Tiger has had 400+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards in a game.
NC State quarterback Mike Glennon, who has gone on to a long NFL career, threw for more yards than Boyd, connecting on 29-53 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns, but he had -19 rushing yards.
“It was an exciting game…there was no room to breathe,” recalled Boyd. “We had to go out there each time and find a way to score. It was intense the entire game.”
In terms of combined total offense and points, it remains a Clemson record in both categories. The Tigers finished with 754 total yards, second most in school history. Only Clemson’s 756 total yards against Wake Forest in 1981 are more.
NC State gained 597 total yards, giving first-year Tiger Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables nightmares. That mark of 1,351 combined yards is still the record for a Clemson game.
The 110 combined points are the most in a Tiger game in the modern era. The only total that is higher took place in Clemson’s 122-0 win over Guilford on Oct. 5, 1901.
Boyd was known for his ability to throw the ball down the field, and he did time and again in this game. He threw passing touchdowns of 69 yards to Brandon Ford, 62 yards to DeAndre Hopkins, 40 yards to Martavis Bryant and 27 yards to Sammy Watkins.
Boyd was also known for his ability to run the ball with authority. If it was third down and three or less, chances are Morris called for a Boyd power run for the first down. He had rushing touchdowns of four, nine and nine yards on the way to his 103 yards on the ground.
The teams combined for 34 points in the first quarter, as the Wolfpack took a 21-13 lead. NC State then kicked a field goal to start the scoring in the second quarter to take a 24-13 lead, Clemson’s largest deficit at home all season.
“Even though we were behind, the crowd was into it and gave us energy, said Boyd. “We fed off that.”
Boyd then led Clemson on an incredible 42-0 run to take a 55-24 lead with 4:13 left in the third quarter. Boyd’s nine-yard run completed a 10-play, 74-yard drive, one of 10 drives of 60+ yards the teams combined for in the game.
The teams combined for three more touchdowns in the last four minutes of the third quarter. Clemson’s final score was the 69-yard scoring pass to Ford, a play that put him over 100 receiving yards in the game. That gave Clemson a 62-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Believe it or not, Clemson did not score in the fourth quarter. Therefore, Boyd accounted for those eight touchdowns in just three quarters.
The Wolfpack scored 10 points in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter to make the final score 62-48. Although Clemson did not score the rest of the way, the Tigers were able to control the clock. The victory gave Clemson 10 wins in the regular season for the first time since the 1981 season.
“It was a fun game to play in if you were on offense,” added Boyd. “Everything Coach Morris drew up worked. It was like going through a practice.
“At the end of the day, this is what our offense was built to do.”
Boyd finished the year as the ACC MVP and a first-team All-America quarterback by AFCA. His performance that day against NC State had a lot to do with those significant honors.