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Clemson dominates Georgia Tech at home, becomes bowl-eligible

Jacob Citron
Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) runs for a 32-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Tigers’ game against Georgia Tech in Memorial Stadium on Nov. 11, 2023.

Clemson (6-4, 3-4 ACC) defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 42-21 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday to become bowl-eligible. 

Georgia Tech got on the board first, as quarterback Haynes King took the ball into the end zone with 6:26 left in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets’ opening score was set up by a fake Clemson punt attempt, which ended up being a few yards short of a first down, setting up Georgia Tech at its own 25-yard line.

Three minutes and 15 seconds into the second quarter, Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins caught a short pass from Cade Klubnik in the east end zone to tie the game up at 7-7. Weitz would go 6 for 6 on extra points during the contest. Shortly after, Clemson took the lead with 7:17 left in the half when wide receiver Tyler Brown scored on an impressive one-handed catch to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead. 

With 1:09 left in the half, running back Will Shipley ran for a 32-yard score to extend Clemson’s lead to 21-7 entering halftime. That score marked the first time Shipley saw the end zone since Clemson’s game against Wake Forest on Oct. 7. 

Once the Tigers got rolling, they were almost impossible to stop. Just 28 seconds after Shipley’s touchdown, Clemson safety Khalil Barnes intercepted a pass from King at the Georgia Tech 46-yard line, offering the Tigers another opportunity to increase their lead. However, Clemson didn’t score on the drive, as Weitz missed a 47-yard field goal attempt with seven seconds on the clock.

Midway through the game, Clemson was dominating the box score and had 249 total yards (114 rushing and 135 passing). Meanwhile, Georgia Tech had just 89 total yards and just one passing yard. The Tigers also had 14 first downs and possessed the ball for 20:42, while the Yellow Jackets had just four and had the ball for 9:18.

The Tigers continued to dominate into the third quarter; at the 7:55 mark, Klubnik threaded the needle through three Georgia Tech defenders to find tight end Jake Briningstool in the end zone, bringing the score to 28-7. 

During Clemson’s next drive, Klubnik threw a pass intended for Briningstool, but it was intercepted by the Yellow Jackets at the 39-yard line. This turnover did not disrupt the Tigers’ momentum, as Clemson’s defense quickly shut down Georgia Tech with a takeaway of their own, as freshman cornerback Avieon Terrell picked off King’s pass at the 8-yard line to regain possession.

On Georgia Tech’s next two drives, King threw his third and fourth interceptions of the day. The first was by Clemson safety Kylon Griffin at the 31-yard line just five seconds into the final quarter. Klubnik threw a short pass to tight end Josh Sapp for the Tigers’ fifth touchdown. On the fourth and ten in Georgia Tech’s next drive, King threw a pick six to Clemson cornerback Shelton Lewis at the 46-yard line, bringing the Tigers’ lead to 42-7. 

With 10:11 left to play, Georgia Tech running back Dontae Smith rushed 32 yards to the end zone for the Yellow Jackets’ second touchdown. Georgia Tech moved 51 yards for 12 plays in four minutes for another touchdown but could not overcome Clemson’s 28 unanswered points in the second and third quarters.

In arguably Clemson’s most complete performance of the season, the Tigers passed for 205 yards and rushed for 239 (444 total), while the Yellow Jackets passed for 137 and rushed for 117 (254 total). 

Clemson will play its final home game of the season next Saturday, Nov. 18, against North Carolina at 3:30 p.m.

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Kelly Kaelblein
Kelly Kaelblein, Asst. Sports Editor
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