Georgia Tech stumbles in 55-31 loss
Georgia Tech didn't see anything from No. 8 Clemson the Yellow Jackets hadn't spent nearly two weeks working on. Turns out, they just couldn't stop the Tigers.
Tajh Boyd threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns to break Philip Rivers' Atlantic Coast Conference career TD record in Clemson's 55-31 victory Thursday night. Boyd also ran for a touchdown as the Tigers (9-1, 7-1 ACC) won their third straight after the season's lone loss, a 51-14 beatdown to No. 2 Florida State last month.
''It felt like when we got some things going we couldn't build on it,'' Georgia Tech left guard Will Jackson said. ''They just had an answer for it, not so much schematically, but physically.''
The Yellow Jackets (6-4, 5-3) were held to 248 yards rushing, far off their conference-leading season's average of 311. The defense also gave up 551 yards, tying the season high that Miami put on them on Oct. 5.
''You guys want to make our defense the Green Bay Packers one week. The next week, you want to say they stink,'' Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. ''It is a process to get better.''
One of the few bright spots was runner Robert Godhigh, who gained 126 yards on the ground and caught five passes for 103 yards. He also rushed for two touchdowns. However, it wasn't anywhere close to slowing down Clemson's offense.
Boyd threw a major scare into Tigers coaches, teammates and the 75,324 fans at Death Valley when he remained on the turf in pain at the end of the third quarter with what the school said was a left collarbone injury.
But Boyd had X-rays done and no breaks were discovered. He bounded out of the locker room, grabbed a ball and even pestered offensive coordinator Chad Morris to go back in. Boyd didn't have to, though, with Clemson (9-1, 7-1) ahead 41-24 and cruising to a third straight victory since losing to No. 2 Florida State last month.
''If it was a dire situation I felt like I needed to play I felt like I could've,'' Boyd said. ''But we were in a situation where it wasn't needed.''
Will he slow down at all with FCS opponent Citadel up next for Clemson on Nov. 23?
''No, man, I'm not going to miss my last game in the valley,'' he said. ''I'll throw a pad in there and I'll be fine.''
That's been Boyd's attitude for much of his record-setting career.
''He's a competitor,'' Morris said. ''My gosh, look at the records this guy has broken in the ACC. Wow. And in just three years.''
Boyd has 97 touchdown passes, two more than Rivers - now with the San Diego Chargers - had at North Carolina State from 2000-03.
Georgia Tech had feint hopes of winning the ACC Coastal Division, but fell behind 20-0 early in the second quarter and not rally.
Sammy Watkins had touchdowns catches of 41 and 44 yards for the Tigers.
Martavis Bryant finished with five catches for a career high 176 yards receiving, including a 76-yard TD pass from Boyd. Watkins finished with 104 yards, his seventh game over the century mark this season. He also moved past 1,000 yards on the season
Clemson hoped to close the season strongly in its first Thursday night home game in 11 years. But that's usually tricky for the Tigers when it comes to Georgia Tech, which had won four of the past six games in the series and befuddled the Tigers for years with coach Paul Johnson's highly effective triple-option attack.
This time, though, the Tigers' defense was off and running from the start. The group forced three straight three-and-outs and didn't give up a first down until the second quarter.
Georgia Tech came in with an ACC-best 311 rushing yards a game, yet was held to 72 in the opening half as Clemson's defensive front chased down quarterback Vad Lee.
The Yellow Jackets cut the score to 27-17 on Robert Godhigh's 65-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, but Clemson scored on its next two possessions to take control for good.
''Once we did that, we started feeling good about ourselves,'' Godhigh said. ''But then we started kicking ourself in the foot again.''
It was the most points Clemson scored on Georgia Tech since winning 73-0 in 1903 when John Heisman - yes, that John Heisman - coached the Tigers. Heisman left the next season to coach the Yellow Jackets.