Clemson, S.C. – No. 25Clemson (1-1, 0-1 ACC) used 45 unanswered points to defeat Charleston Southern (1-1), 66-17, on Saturday to win its 20th straight home opener at Memorial Stadium. This marked the first time ever, the two programs would meet.
The Tigers out-gained Charleston Southern by 606 yards after compiling 679 yards of offense. On the defensive end, Clemson held the Buccaneers to 73 total yards and only 12 rushing yards. Clemson forced eight three-and-outs, registered two sacks and came up with 10 tackles for a loss. The Buccaneers only had four first downs for the entire game.
In his first start at Death Valley, quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 28-for-37 passes for 315 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes. Beaux Collins set a career high with seven receptions and matched his career high with 137 receiving yards. Collins made a statement as the “alpha receiver” on this roster. Phil Mafah added 59 yards of his own with two touchdowns.
The Tigers started the game with a 68-yard touchdown drive, as Klubnik capped off their first possession with a 10-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Williams. A miscue on a handoff on fourth-and-one on Clemson’s next drive led to a 25-yard Charleston Southern fumble return down to the Clemson one-yard line, setting the Buccaneers up for a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
Charleston Southern took the lead, defensive back Leon Thomas recorded a pick-six of Klubnik with 3:47 left to play in the first quarter. The Tigers responded with a 57-yard drive with running back Phil Mafah tying the game at 14-14 with a one-yard rushing touchdown. Mafah had two scores on the afternoon.
Xavier Thomas’ first sack of the season helped force the Clemson defense’s for their third three-and-out of the first half. On Clemson’s ensuing possession, a 29-yard pass from Klubnik to Williams put the Tigers in scoring position, and the duo connected again on the third play of the drive for a five-yard touchdown dime.
Clemson’s offense went right to work in the third quarter. On the Tigers’ first possession of the half, Shipley rushed for 31 total yards to set up his fellow running back Mafah to score his second touchdown of the game which increased Clemson’s lead to 31-17.
On the first play of Charleston Southern’s next drive, a big hit from Jeadyn Lukas jarred the pass loose that was intercepted by defensive back Wade Woodaz and returned 35 yards for a Clemson’s touchdown. The two Tigers’ touchdowns came just 12 seconds apart, a school record between two scrimmage plays.
On Clemson’s next drive, Klubnik found Beaux Collins over the middle and Collins won a foot race to score his first touchdown of the game and increased the Tigers lead. After another defensive stand, Klubnik led the Tigers on a 91-yard touchdown drive in which he connected with redshirt freshman Josh Sapp on a 25-yard touchdown pass to give Sapp his first touchdown of his collegiate career.
Hunter Helms came in for Klubnik at quarterback in the fourth quarter and led the Tigers on an 90-yard drive that freshman Jay Haynes finished with an eight-yard run for the first touchdown of his collegiate career. Clemson further increased its lead to 66-17 with a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Paul Tyson to Haynes in the final five minutes of the game.
Prior to the game, Clemson christened its updated Tiger Walk plaza to the west of Memorial Stadium with a ribbon cutting featuring Dabo Swinney and Jim and Candace Brown. Featuring era-specific in-ground plaques denoting every team captain in program history.
Clemson will be play FAU home Sept. 16 for a 8:30 P.M. showdown.