Top 25 Football: Clemson 38, Auburn 24
Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2011
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Clemson coach Dabo Swinney got an extra kick out of ending No. 21 Auburnís 17-game winning streak.
ěItís only fitting that an Alabama grad would be in charge of the team that ended the winning streak,î said Swinney, who played on the Crimson Tideís 1992 national champs.
Clemson overcame Auburnís 14-0 lead for a 38-24 victory as quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns Saturday. Clemson posted 624 yards of offense ó its third highest output and its best against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
It was also a special showing from Boyd, a sophomore making his third start. He finished 30 of 42 and had no interceptions.
ěTajh is great. It took him a couple of series to calm down. That was the biggest stage heís ever played on,î Clemson center Dalton Freeman said. ěOnce he got calmed down, he was lights out.î
And so was Clemson.
During one stretch, Clemson converted 10 straight third-down opportunities and scored on five of six possessions to take control.
Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards, including touchdown grabs of 65 and 19 yards. His catches and total yards set a school mark for freshman wideouts.
Watkins said his focus was on Auburn, not the end zone or records.
ěI wasnít thinking about touchdowns. I wasnít thinking about yards. I was just thinking, ëWe have to beat Auburn,íî he said.
Clemson is 3-0 for the first time since 2007.
Auburn (2-1) took a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter before Boyd began hitting his targets over the final three periods. Clemsonís third-down success sapped Auburnís energy said defensive back Ryan White.
ěWe got to get off the field on third down,î White said. ěThat killed our spirit. You go on the road, that takes a lot of energy and you could see they rallied. They got the crowd into it and they couldnít be stopped.î
Trailing 38-24 in the fourth quarter, Auburn moved to Clemsonís 8-yard line in a final attempt at a comeback. But Barrett Trotter was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh to end the threat.
ěWeíre angry that we lost that game,î Trotter said. ěThat goes without saying.î
Michael Dyer led Auburn with 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Clemson players jumped around in celebration when the clock struck zero and fans swarmed the field. Swinney told his players they had greatness in them but had to decide to show it.
ěI couldnít think of a better place to end the streak than Death Valley, South Carolina, baby,î he said.
Clemson had lost 14 straight to Auburn since a 34-0 win in 1951. That was also the last time Clemson posted as many yards of offense (524) against an SEC opponent ó Clemson plays South Carolina, an SEC member since 1992, each year
Boydís touchdown passes included throws of 65 and 19 yards to freshman receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins finished with 10 catches for 155 yards, both setting Clemson records for a freshman.
Trotter was continually harassed by Clemsonís defense. He finished 12 of 25 for 198 yards in his first road start.
The tigers led 21-7 but Auburnís defensive cracks eventually showed up. Boyd was 3-of-3 on third-down throws the next time Clemson had the ball, including a 6-yard TD pass to Dwayne Allen in the back of the end zone to end an 81-yard scoring drive.
Clemson went 75 yards the next time it got the ball, the big play coming on Allenís 23-yard catch to the Auburn 2. Andre Ellington finished things off with a touchdown run to tie the game.