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
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
”Probably our best drive of the year,” Boyd said, ”just
because we were just out there playing, not really thinking.”
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