CLEMSON, S.C. – No. 25/21 Clemson (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.
Clemson outgained Charleston Southern by 606 yards after compiling 679 yards of offense. On the defensive end, the Tigers 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. In his first start at Death Valley, 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, while Antonio Williams added two receiving touchdowns among his 64 receiving yards. Will Shipley led the Tigers in rushing with 73 yards, and 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 Leon Thomas recorded a pick-six of Klubnik with 3:47 left to play in the first quarter. Clemson responded with a 57-yard drive, and running back Phil Mafah tied the game at 14-14 with a one-yard rushing touchdown. Xavier Thomas’ first sack of the season helped force the Clemson defense’s third three-and-out of the first half. On Clemson’s ensuing possession, a 29-yard pass from Klubnik to Williams put Clemson in scoring position, and the duo connected again on the third play of the drive for a five-yard touchdown pass. With 5:26 left in the first half, Charleston Southern had to settle for a 45-yard field goal to cut the score to 21-17. Clemson would score a field goal of its own to increase the Tigers’ lead to 24-17 headed into halftime. The second half would be dominated by Clemson. On Clemson’s 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 and increase Clemson’s lead to 31-17. On the first play of Charleston Southern’s next drive, a powerful hit from Jeadyn Lukas jarred a pass loose that was intercepted by Wade Woodaz and returned 35 yards for a Clemson touchdown. The two Clemson 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 increase the Clemson lead. After another defensive stand, Klubnkik 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 Clemson 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, the reimagined Tiger Walk space now honors legends of Clemson’s past, creating a 365-day destination for Tiger fans and a permanent encapsulation of Clemson Football’s history and tradition.Clemson will play the second game of its current three-game homestand next Saturday, Sept. 16, when the Tigers face Florida Atlantic at Memorial Stadium on Family Weekend. The prime-time game is slated to kick off at 8 p.m. ET on ACC Network. Tickets for the contest remain available here.