Tigers strike blow for ACC in win over Dogs

Clemson 38, Georgia 35

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two others, Clemson’s defense sacked Aaron Murray four times and the eighth-ranked Tigers stung No. 5 Georgia 38-35 Saturday night.

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Georgia's Tray Matthews tries to pull down Clemson's Sammy Watkins on Watkins' 77-yard touchdown reception during the first quarter.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Georgia's Tray Matthews tries to pull down Clemson's Sammy Watkins on Watkins' 77-yard touchdown reception during the first quarter.

Boyd had scoring passes of 77 yards to Sammy Watkins, 24 yards to Zac Brooks and 9 yards to Stanton Seckinger. Boyd also added TD runs of 4 and 2 yards to win the lone matchup of top 10 teams in college football’s opening weekend.

It lived up to the billing, a back-and-forth classic that should vault Boyd to the top of the Heisman watch lists and get Clemson into the top five of the rankings.

The Tigers took the lead for good, 31-28, on Chandler Catanzaro’s 24-yard field goal in the third quarter. Georgia had a try for a tying kick on its next possession, but couldn’t get if off after Nathan Theus’ bad snap .

Two series later, Boyd led a 12-play, 87-yard TD drive that ended with tight end Seckinger tip-toeing the sidelines to get in.

Georgia’s Todd Gurley ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

While Boyd soared, Murray struggled to move the Bulldogs when it counted most. He led a 64-yard, hurry up drive in the final quarter and his 1-yard TD run cut a 10-point lead to 38-35 with 1:19 left. But Clemson recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to end Georgia’s five-game series win streak.

The teams open the 2014 season in Athens, Ga.

Watkins had six catches for 127 yards while Rod McDowell finished with 132 yards on the ground in his first game replacing 1,000-yard rusher Andre Ellington.

Murray completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards but threw an interception and was constantly chased around by Clemson’s lightly-regarded defense.

The victory gives the Tigers back-to-back wins over power schools from the Southeastern Conference following the 25-24 win over Louisiana State University at the Chick-fil-A Bowl last New Year’s Eve.

Tiger fans chanted “A-C-C, A-C-C,” after time ran out.

Boyd was the star of that bowl, too, the game’s MVP. Coach Dabo Swinney declared his group a national championship team moments after the win.

Boyd was all but certain to give up his senior season for the NFL but chose to return, he said, for the chance to win games like this. The Tigers don’t have a lot of stumbling blocks in their schedule — they play South Carolina State of the FCS next week — and might not be truly tested until Florida State plays here on Oct. 19.

Clemson pulled out the stops in the weekend’s only showdown of top 10 teams. ESPN’s College GameDay came to campus and the university inducted fan hero Danny Ford — he coached the Tigers to the 1981 national championship — into its Ring of Honor on the facing of the football stadium.

Both teams spent the past eight months hearing about each other and were jacked up from the start as Georgia’s players ran through their sidelines and down toward Memorial Stadium’s hill, yelling at the Tigers as they ran onto the field.

Coaches and officials stepped between to make sure things didn’t go any further.

Early on, it looked like the high-flying, Techmo Bowl matchup everyone expected as Georgia and Clemson used big plays to get in the end zone. Boyd had passes of 17 yards to Seckinger and 25 to Charone Peake to set up his 4-yard scoring run.

Moments later, Gurley flashed through the Clemson defensive line for a 75-yard touchdown. Seconds after that it was Sammy Watkins turn as he grabbed Boyd’s pass and raced for a 77-yard TD of his own.

Murray took control the next two times Georgia had the ball, and Keith Marshall’s 4-yard run made it 14-all.

Murray was 3-of-3 passing when the Bulldogs got the ball again and Quayvon Hicks finished the 97-yard drive with a 1-yard power rush for Georgia’s first lead, 21-14.

Clemson’s defense kicked in midway through the second quarter, Vic Beasley sacking Murray to end one drive and linebacker Stephone Anthony jarring the ball loose on Georgia’s following possession deep in Bulldogs territory.

Boyd ran for 10 yards on the scoring drive, finishing it with a 2-yard run as he stretched the ball over the goal line to make it 21-all.

The Bulldogs lost last year’s second leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell to a knee injury early in the game. It doesn’t get easier next week for Georgia, which hosts South Carolina.

Comments (19) Add comment
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Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 09/01/13 - 06:18 am
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:)

:)

justthefacts
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justthefacts 09/01/13 - 07:27 am
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Mistakes

Got to be able to kick 10 yd field goals. 1st and goal @ the 5 and you get no points. 3 dives up the middle and a bad snap. They say in an even game, the home field is worth 3 points. It was last night for sure.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/13 - 08:52 am
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Georgia had its breaks, too.

Georgia had its breaks, too. The fake punt led to a TD.

gcap
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gcap 09/01/13 - 09:27 am
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Defense wins...

...ALL games, especially the big ones. Congratulations to Clemson and I hope they contend for the national championship. The Dawgs have no defense. 8-5 will be the best we can hope for with this defensive coach.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 09/01/13 - 09:33 am
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8-5

Really? You lose on the road in one of the most hostile environments in the world by 3 pts and now you think that team will only win 8. Wish I could get a bet with you. River, a fake punt is not a break. I would like to congrat Clemson on one aspect of the game. Running 80 plays without an offensive penalty was, well, unusual. UGA meanwhile had 6 holding penalities. I hope those ACC Officials got it right.

d1zmljqg
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d1zmljqg 09/01/13 - 09:50 am
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Coach Richt

Fundamentals! I hope you discuss the importance of the play clock with Murray, and don't just skim over importance of penalties, for example UGA penalties 9/84, Clemson penalties 5/38 and some comparisons from yesterday's winners Alabama 4/25 and PSU 4/20. Utilize some blind side tackles in practice (maybe at least Murray will develop a little ESP.)

gcap
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gcap 09/01/13 - 10:11 am
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JTF

You are an emotional and not a statistical fan. But your blinders protect you from the facts and help you justify problems. We not only lost by three, we gave up 38 points. I'll make you a bet. If Dawgs go better than 8-5, I will proclaim on this page your overwhelming football knowledge. If you'll do the same if they are 8-5 or worse.

And d1z... makes a good point. Penalties killed us. Goes back to coaching.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/13 - 10:11 am
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Yeah, those officials were

Yeah, those officials were really trying to help Clemson. Calling the receiver out of bounds when he scored. Thank goodness for replay. What conference were the replay officials from?

Grandpa Jones
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Grandpa Jones 09/01/13 - 10:16 am
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Murray

As the Bleacher Report pointed out before the Clemson game, Murray is only "3-11 against teams that finish in the Top 25." Also, ABC pointed out that Murray is only "1-9 against team that finish in the Top 15." So unless Murray can change those stats, three to five losses look about right. LOL.

faithson
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faithson 09/01/13 - 10:21 am
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plenty of talent

poor coaching... as usual with Richt and Bobo. to many questionable play calls and way to many penalties. on a drive in the late 4th quarter and your offensive tackle gets a holding call... and what does the Head Coach DO... literally NOTHING, NADA, not a word in the face of the offender.... I guess the embarrassment is enough for Richt, but in my day, ole coach Nelson would have torn his head off... Oh, yea... Richt likes to 'talk' to the boys.......... no in your face, smash mouth stuff.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/13 - 10:20 am
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One team will go to the

One team will go to the National Championship Game, the other to the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

Clemintime
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Clemintime 09/01/13 - 11:08 am
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Real or Memorex

Clemson has a real QB.

Bantana
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Bantana 09/01/13 - 01:57 pm
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One to the championship and one to the sticks, that's half true.

I will say that if you have to rely on trick plays to stay in the game, you've got problems. My Dogs got handled. With that said, I love them more than our current head coach. No worries for me though Riverman, as neither the Tigers nor UGA will be going to Shreveport come the holiday season. The Tigers are better than that and for UGA, I see a very similar scenario to last year's except that this time around the Dogs beat Bama and go onto Pasadena. Go Dawgs.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/01/13 - 02:11 pm
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Bantana, I really hope UGA

Bantana, I really hope UGA has a good team because that will mean Clemson is even better. UGA has a tough row to hoe because they play a rested Carolina next Sat. Good luck to all.

woodymeister
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woodymeister 09/01/13 - 03:04 pm
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The Game and Officials

If I'm not mistaken, the officiating crew was from the SEC so if you got screwed by them your were had by your own. I sat close to the Georgia crowd last night and would have to say that they were the poorest losers and the most foul mouthed people I have ever seen or heard. As they yelled in unison about the redneck Clemson fans they exposed themselves as those who do not know how to win or lose with humility.

I dislike the gamecocks to no end, but this week I hope Spurrier and company beat UGA like a drum. SEC.....Overrated, Overrated, Overrated

gcap
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gcap 09/01/13 - 06:52 pm
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Woody, refs are often the problem...

...when you lose. No excuses here. Not injuries. Not refs. Not heat. Two things lost the game. Offensive mistakes and, most important, an unprepared, unskilled, improperly coached defense. And our fans that travel to night games are indeed number one. We can out drink anyone. Sounds like we must have protected our reputation.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 09/01/13 - 11:49 pm
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SEC overrated? Bwaaaa, ha,

SEC overrated? Bwaaaa, ha, ha! There may be a couple conferences worthy enough to sniff the SEC's gym shorts. The rest are just pretenders!

d1zmljqg
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d1zmljqg 09/02/13 - 08:47 am
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The "Let Down" UGA will most likely

have will spot South Carolina 14-17 points.

Bantana
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Bantana 09/02/13 - 03:15 pm
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oh woody

the officials were acc, but that didn't change the fact that uga got handled, as I said. and honestly, for years it was the consensus of everyone in Athens that Clemson fans were the most ill mannered,
loud mouthed drunkards ever inside the city limits. I suppose it cuts both ways and I can see how folks in Clemson would feel the same.
my first college game was 1962 UGA v Clemson. UGA won that one.

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