Boyd shines as No. 9 Clemson routs Virginia, 59-10

Tajh Boyd sent Sammy Watkins out wide to the right, and saw

freshman Tim Harris sliding over in man-to-man coverage.

Clemson faced a third-and-15 from its 4 yard-line, a situation

that usually calls for a more conservative play call, but Boyd saw

the home run potential of the matchup and went for it.

Moments later, Watkins was easing into the end zone after a

96-yard touchdown catch that gave the ninth-ranked Tigers a 42-7

lead against Virginia, and Boyd and Watkins were done for the night

in what became a 59-10 victory on Saturday.

”When they’re out there,” Boyd said of Watkins and fellow

speedy receiver Martavius Bryant, ”you’ve just got to throw your

arm out, honestly, and they’ll run and go get it.”

The Tigers did plenty of that in what Boyd and coach Dabo

Swinney called their most complete performance of the season. It

came two weeks after their worst, a 51-14 loss to No. 3 Florida

State, and marked the start of a big finish, Boyd said.

”November is when we want to play our best football,” Boyd

said. ”Hopefully we put a stamp on it today and we’re just going

to try to take off from here.”

The Hampton, Va., native played one half and one series, and

became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career leader in

touchdown-making with a 33-yard pass to Watkins to start the

scoring for the Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC). It broke a tie at 112 TDs

with North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers. Boyd later added TD

throws of 10 yards to Roderick McDowell and the 96 yarder, the

longest completion of his career, and the longest reception of

Watkins’ career. Boyd also scored on a 1-yard run.

”Tremendous performance by that young man,” Swinney said.

Virginia (2-7, 0-5) lost its sixth in a row and 15th in its last

19 tries. It also suffered its second 59-10 loss at home this

season, having lost by the same score against No. 2 Oregon in the

second week of the season.

”We have no choice but to keep our confidence up,” linebacker

Henry Coley said after the Cavaliers were also eliminated from bowl

contention for the second season in a row. ”There are still three

more games to play.”

Boyd finished 24 of 29 for 377 yards. He’s now been in on 116

career touchdowns, with 93 through the air and 23 running. He’s

also 4-0 against teams from his home state, having won three prior

meetings against Virginia Tech.

Watkins caught eight passes for 169 yards and two scores. It was

his sixth 100-yard game this season.

The Tigers wasted little time asserting their dominance, taking

the opening kickoff and driving 75 yards in six plays and taking

just 1:27 off the clock. Boyd hit Watkins three times, the last for

33 yards.

Virginia pulled even after an exchange of punts, Watford running

it in from the 6 to cap a 54-yard drive, but the Tigers responded

immediately with another 6-play, 75-yard march to C.J. Davidson’s

2-yard run. Boyd hit Roderick McDowell for 27 yards on a

third-and-4 play and hit Bryant for 37 yards on the next play.

Anthony Harris’ sixth interception of the season ended a Tigers’

drive deep in Virginia territory, and Clemson punted twice and was

stopped on fourth down on its next three possessions, but the

Cavaliers could do nothing offensively.

When Watford overthrew Darius Jennings late in the half and

Jayron Kearse intercepted and returned it 37 yards to the Virginia

33, the Tigers began a late scoring frenzy.

Boyd’s screen pass to McDowell made it 21-7, and when Kearse

stripped the ball from Khalek Shepherd on the ensuing series,

DeShawn Williams recovered at midfield. Five plays later, McDowell

ran into the line on third-and-1, broke quickly into the clear and

went 25 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-7.

Boyd followed another three-and-out for Virginia by carving the

defense up in a crisp eight-play, 86-yard drive. He was 6 for 6 on

the drive for 84 yards, then ran it the final yard 0:13 before

halftime.

”Probably our best drive of the year,” Boyd said, ”just

because we were just out there playing, not really thinking.”

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