CLEMSON, S.C. — When Lamarcus Joyner came speeding around to surprise Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the first quarter, the Florida State defensive machine was just gearing up for a beatdown.
Joyner’s forced fumble on a sack led to a defensive touchdown that was perhaps the signature play of the Seminoles confounding the Tigers offense in a top-5 showdown that ended 51-14. Clemson gained a season-low 326 yards and committed a season-worst four turnovers in the blowout loss.
In a game that, at least at kick, featured perhaps the leading senior Heisman contender in Boyd and the top freshman candidate in Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston, Florida State’s defense stole at least some of the spotlight.
Joyner probably took most of that attention, forcing two fumbles and getting an interception all in the first half.
On those plays and many others, Boyd was under pressure or at least a hint of pressure. The senior signal caller did throw a first-quarter touchdown, but he was only 17 for 37 with 156 yards and three turnovers. Boyd had never completed worse than 60 percent of his passes in a game this season.
But before the Seminoles led 27-7 at the half, the defense may have clinched the game while making stops in a three-possession span.
With Clemson down just 17-7 in the second quarter, the Tigers started back-to-back drives at the Seminoles’ 42 and their own 49. But instead of climbing closer, the Tigers wasted away: 13 yards, zero points.
On the next possession, Boyd tossed an interception when Clemson drove to the Florida State 25. With that pick, the Tigers had a new season-high with three turnovers at only the half – they had just six entering the game.
Then, about halfway through the third quarter, with the Tigers desperate down 27, Boyd rolled to the right and was picked off again.
Florida State scored three touchdowns and a field goal off those turnovers after the Tigers had allowed zero points off turnovers all year.