Tajh Boyd threw for a career-high 397 yards and DeAndre Hopkins had 173 yards receiving Saturday as No. 15 Clemson recorded a 47-31 victory over Georgia Tech.
The shootout expected with two struggling defenses materialized. The Tigers (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) gained 601 yards, while the Yellow Jackets (2-4, 1-3) gained 483.
Boyd threw for two touchdowns, including a 35-yarder to Hopkins that put Clemson up 38-31 with 10:29 left in the game.
Georgia Tech bobbled the ensuing kickoff and started its possession at the 2 yard line. Tigers linebacker Spencer Shuey sniffed out an option pitch two plays later for a safety. It was the first time either team led by more than a touchdown.
Orwin Smith was tackled for a safety. It was his only bad play — he gained 117 yards on seven carries.
Georgia Tech had a chance to get back in the game. Linebacker Daniel Drummond picked off a tipped pass with 8:32 to go. The Yellow Jackets drove to the Tigers 20, but David Scully’s 37-yard field goal was blocked by Josh Watson.
Clemson also rubbed it in against a Georgia Tech team that had won four of the last five between the teams, giving the ball to Roderick McDowell on a second-and-goal with the Yellow Jackets out of timeouts and 50 seconds left. McDowell ran a yard for the score.
”If we take a knee right now, I was going to be disappointed,” Boyd said of the last drive. ”I know it’s sportsmanship, but at the same time, we got down there, we’ve got to go get it. This is a rivalry game for us.”
Along with completing 26 of 41 passes, Boyd ran for a touchdown and caught one pass — a 2-point conversion. The ball was snapped to running back Andre Ellington, who pitched to Hopkins, who threw the pass to Boyd. The points were critical, because Clemson would take a nine-point lead after the safety.
The offenses were expected to dominate. Clemson came in allowing 1,087 yards in its past two games, and the Yellow Jackets had allowed 1,119 yards in their last two.
Both teams chewed up yards. There were only two punts, one per team. Georgia Tech couldn’t even stop Clemson at the end, with Roderick McDowell running a yard for a touchdown with 50 seconds to go. The Tigers ran 93 plays, while Georgia Tech had just 60.
Clemson’s offense hummed for the most part. The Tigers only struggled when they got close to the end zone, settling for three field goals and three touchdowns on six trips inside the Georgia Tech 6 yard line.
Hopkins caught seven passes, two of them for touchdowns. Ellington gained 82 yards on 24 carries, while Sammy Watkins, back from missing a game with a virus, caught six passes for 42 yards and ran twice for four yards,
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney improved to 2-4 against the Yellow Jackets.
Tevin Washington ran for 104 yards 16 carries and completed nine of 14 passes for 144 yards for Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets’ 2-4 start is their worst since they went 1-10 in 1994. But Smith said it isn’t time to give up, because there is still half the season to go.
”I always keep faith no matter what,” he said. "We’ve just got to find a way to keep the guys to believe in themselves and keep going hard. It’s not over. We still have things we need to accomplish. A bowl game is definitely on the list.”