Clemson, SC - Robert Godhigh was outstanding Thursday for Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for the visiting Yellow Jackets, the Clemson offense had far more than just one weapon.
Tajh Boyd threw for 340 yards and four scores, becoming the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leader in touchdowns as the Tigers defeated Georgia Tech 55-31.
Boyd’s big night, which ended prematurely when the senior left the game with what looked to be a collarbone injury, allowed him to pass former N.C. State and current San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers in career touchdowns with 97.
He threw touchdowns to three different receivers as Sammy Watkins caught two, Mike Williams got one and Martavis Bryant had 176 yards and a score, helping Clemson move to 9-1 overall and 7-1 in ACC play.
While the Tech defense was allowing its most points since Virginia scored 55 in September, 1992 and the most to Clemson since the Tigers won 73-0 in 1903, Rockdale graduate Grady Jarrett and the Clemson defensive line had a nice night. Jarrett, a junior nose tackle and one of the stalwarts on the line, recovered a second quarter fumble and was a big reason why the Tigers held Tech’s rushing attack, which came into the game fourth nationally in yards per game, to 63 yards below their season average (74 yards came on Tech’s final offensive possession with a field full of backups on both sides of the ball).
Godhigh compiled 229 yards of offense (126 rushing, 103 receiving), but it wasn’t nearly enough for Tech, which had its three-game losing streak snapped and fell to 6-4 overall and 5-3 in league play.
Godhigh, a former walk-on and a redshirt-senior, got the Yellow Jackets to within 10 points early in the second half, exploding for a 65-yard touchdown that made it a 27-17 game with 12:08 left in the third.
That was as close as the visitors from Atlanta would get.
Clemson answered right away and after Boyd and Bryant hooked up for consecutive completions to the Tech 1, Boyd scampered in for the touchdown and a 17-point advantage.
Boyd and Watkins got together for the final time on a beautiful, 44-yard touchdown that made it a 41-17 game, and after Godhigh scored from five yards to cut it to 41-24, Boyd was hurt on a running play and left early in the fourth.
Boyd’s injury isn’t considered serious, though he could get a long rest as Clemson plays FCS The Citadel November 23 before its rivalry game against South Carolina November 30.
On the opening possession of the game, Clemson picked up an average of six yards on its first even plays to get to the Tech 21, but went backwards on its next two plays, settling for Chandler Catanzaro’s 40-yard field goal.
Clemson was driving down the field again late in the first, and aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty by Tech cornerback Louis Young had a first down at the Tech 30. But thanks to Jeremiah Attaochu’s second sack of the drive, Catanzaro bailed out the Tigers’ offense again, nailing a 51-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead.
The hosts had no such problem getting into the end zone early in the second quarter. After starting near midfield for the third consecutive possession, Boyd scooted for two yards on fourth-and-one and followed that with a 41-yard touchdown toss to Watkins in which Watkins leaped high above the smaller cornerback, D.J. White and made a nice grab to put Clemson up 13-0.
That touchdown got Boyd within one of the all-time ACC record, and he wasted little time tying the mark. After another Tech punt, Boyd connected with Bryant for 47 yards to the 2, then hooked up with Williams in the end zone that gave him 95 career touchdown passes, tying him with Rivers.
Godhigh finally gave Tech something to smile about midway through the second quarter. First, the 5-7 running back had a nice catch-and-run on a play action pass for 37 yards to the Clemson 33, then on Tech’s first play of the game in Clemson territory rumbled 32 yards to the 1. David Sims dove in from a yard to get the Yellow Jackets to within 20-7.
Boyd made sure his record-setting touchdown was his finest of the night as he and Bryant got together on a 76-yarder to make it 27-7.