CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score and No. 9 Clemson broke the game open with three touchdowns in the last 4:18 of the first half in a 59-10 victory against Virginia on Saturday.
The Hampton, Va., native became the Atlantic Coast Conference's career leader in touchdown-making with a 33-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to start the scoring for the Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC). It broke a tie at 112 TDs with North Carolina State's Philip Rivers. Boyd later added TD throws of 10 yards to Roderick McDowell and 96 yards to Watkins, and scored on a 1-yard run 13 seconds before halftime to make it 35-7.
Virginia (2-7, 0-5) lost its sixth in a row and for the 15th time in its last 19 games. It also suffered its second 59-10 loss at home this season, having lost by the same score against No. 2 Oregon in the second week of the season.
Boyd, who was removed from the game after teaming up with Watkins on the longest pass play of each of their careers, finished 24 of 29 for 377 yards. He's now been in on 116 career touchdowns, with 93 through the air and 23 running.
Watkins caught eight passes for 169 yards and two TDs. It was his sixth game with at least 100 receiving yards this season.
The long touchdown came on a third-and-15 play for the Tigers on their opening series of the third quarter. Watkins ran past freshman Tim Harris, who has been pressed into duty by injuries that have sidelined defensive backs Demetrious Nicholson and Maurice Canady, and Boyd hit him in stride.
That made it 42-7 and sent fans streaming for the exits in earnest.
It also helped Boyd improve to 4-0 against teams from his home state. He's 3-0 against Virginia Tech.
The Tigers wasted little time asserting their dominance, taking the opening kickoff and driving 75 yards in six plays and just 1:27 off the clock. Boyd hit Watkins three times, the last for 33 yards.
Virginia pulled even after an exchange of punts, Watford running it in from the 6 to cap a 54-yard drive, but the Tigers responded immediately with another 6-play, 75-yard march to C.J. Davidson's 2-yard run. Boyd hit Roderick McDowell for 27 yards and Martavius Bryant for 37 yards on consecutive plays.
Anthony Harris' sixth interception of the season ended a Tigers drive deep in Virginia territory, and Clemson punted twice and was stopped on fourth down on its next three possessions, but the Cavaliers could do nothing offensively.
When David Watford overthrew Darius Jennings late in the half and Jayron Kearse intercepted and returned it 37 yards to the Virginia 33, the Tigers began a late scoring frenzy.
Boyd's screen pass to McDowell made it 21-7, and when Kearse stripped the ball from Khalek Shepherd on the ensuing series, DeShawn Williams recovered at midfield. Five plays later, McDowell ran into the line on third-and-1, broke quickly into the clear and went 25 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-7.
Boyd followed another three-and-out for Virginia by carving the defense up in a crisp eight-play, 86-yard drive. He was 6 for 6 on the drive for 84 yards, then ran it the final yard 0:13 before halftime.