Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Clemson chases doldrums

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney hoped his team would end an early season funk with a big game and some big plays against South Carolina State. Chances came early and often in a 59-0 rout Saturday.

The game was such a mismatch that the fifth-ranked Tigers scored two touchdowns in the first quarter with no time running off the clock, and the coaches agreed to shorten the third and fourth quarters from 15 minutes to 12.

An NCAA rule allows for games to be shortened by time.

Swinney knew the Tigers had questions about themselves after two, less-than-crisp offensive showings against Auburn and Troy. In this one, Clemson put up 31 points in the first quarter.

"This was great for our team, for our spirit and our morale," Swinney said.

Clemson led 45-0 at half time against the Bulldogs, with Deshaun Watson passing for three touchdowns to get the Tigers rolling.

"I enjoyed myself," Watson said with a smile. "There was a lot more energy on the sidelines, too."

Clemson, with three wins to open the season for the fifth time in six years, is 31-0 against Division I-AA teams.

The lopsided score came after Watson told fans he was sorry for the 30-24 win over Troy for any "negative energy" he brought to that game. This time, he was 4-of-4 on an opening drive that ended with a 7-yard score pass to former Sickles High alumnus Ray Ray McCloud.

Watson and McCloud also connected on a 36-yard scoring pass. Watson hit Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech) with a 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter before heading to the sideline.

The strangest sequence of the game involved a first-quarter gaffe by South Carolina State's Ahmaad Harris on a kickoff return after a Clemson touchdown. He flipped the ball to the official in the end zone before taking a knee to stop the action. Clemson's Denzel Johnson recovered the fumble — 14 points, no time off the clock.

OKLA. ST. 45, PITT 38: Mason Rudolph threw an 86-yard pass to Jhajuan Seales then Rennie Childs scored on a 1-yard run — his fourth rushing touchdown of the game — with 1:28 left to lift the host Cowboys. Rudolph was 26-of-46 for a school-record 540 yards and two touchdowns, while James Washington had nine receptions for 296 yards — the most in the nation by anyone this season — and two touchdowns. Childs finished with 101 yards on 10 carries.

GA. TECH 38, VANDY 7: Justin Thomas threw an 81-yard touchdown to Marcus Marshall on the first play of the game, Dedrick Mills ran for three touchdowns and the host Yellow Jackets held the Commodores scoreless in the final three quarters. Georgia Tech gained momentum for Thursday night's visit from Clemson as it moved to 12-0-1 against the Commodores since 1941, including six straight wins.

UNC 56, JAMES MADISON 28: Mitch Trubisky threw for a career-high 432 yards and three touchdowns while setting two school records for the Tar Heels in their home opener. Trubisky completed 24 of 27 passes, including a program single-game record 18 straight before calling it a day early in the fourth. He also has thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception, breaking a record that had stood since 1997.

VA. TECH 49, BC 0: Jerod Evans tied a school record with five touchdown passes for the Hokies. Evans played just the first three quarters, leaving with Virginia Tech leading 42-0. He hit Isaiah Ford twice for touchdowns and also found Travon McMillian, Chris Cunningham and Sam Rogers. Ford's second touchdown came when he was double covered and still came down with the ball at the back of the end zone.

N.C. STATE 49, ODU 22: Backup quarterback Jalan McClendon rushed for two touchdowns and threw for a third, and the host Wolfpack routed Old Dominion to bounce back from a dispiriting loss at East Carolina.

WAKE 38, DELAWARE 21: Matt Colburn rushed for a career-high 118 yards for the host Demon Deacons. Colburn filled in admirably for injured freshman running back Cade Carney, scoring a touchdown just before halftime. Wake Forest bookended intermission with scores.

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