Clemson clubs Carolina

Published 4:42 pm Saturday, October 22, 2011

CLEMSON, S.C.  — Tajh Boyd tied a school record with five touchdown passes, defensive end Kourtnei Brown scored on interception and fumble returns and No. 8 Clemson improved to 8-0 for the first time in 11 years with a 59-38 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
The Tigers (5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) again put on an offensive display with 450 yards as Boyd matched Cullen Harper’s 2007 mark on a day the school celebrated the 30th anniversary of its 1981 national champions.
Brown became the first Clemson defensive lineman to score a pair of touchdowns in one game in 57 years.
North Carolina (5-3, 1-3) turned the ball over six times and tailback Giovani Bernard was held to 44 yards, ending his streak of five consecutive games with 100 yards rushing.
DeAndre Hopkins had nine catches for a career-best 157 yards and standout freshman Sammy Watkins had eight receptions for 91 yards. Both also caught touchdowns from Boyd, who connected with five separate receivers in his record-tying performance.
But it took Brown’s nose for the end zone to get the Tigers on track. They were ahead only 17-10 and had struggled to move the ball against North Carolina’s defense when Brown took Bryn Renner’s swing pass attempt 20 yards for the score to extend the lead.
The Tigers had already blown the game open when Brown scooped up Renner’s fumble and took it 26 yards for a touchdown that made it 59-24, Clemson. It capped a 35-point third quarter, a feat that tied the 1981 team’s second quarter output in an 82-24 beatdown of Wake Forest in that 12-0 season.
Opportunistic defense also was a trademark of those title winners — they hold the school record by collecting 41 turnovers — and, in this one, Brown lived up to the standard set by defensive stars Terry Kinard, Jeff Davis and William “Refrigerator” Perry 30 years back.
No Tiger defensive lineman had scored twice in a game since Walt Laraway had an interception and a blocked punt return for TDs against the Citadel in 1954.
Boyd was 27 of 46 passing for 367 yards, his fourth game this season over 300 yards.
The Tigers had hoped to pick up where they left off a week ago, after the offense dug itself out of an 18-point hole in the second half in a 56-45 victory at Maryland.
The Tar Heels defense — third in the ACC in points allowed per game — proved stingier than the Terps early on.
Linebacker Zach Brown had two drive-killing sacks of Boyd in the first quarter — the Tigers had given up only 13 all season — and then knocked down a ball in coverage that looked like it would lead to a Sammy Watkins TD catch.
North Carolina also stuffed Clemson’s run game, limiting the Tigers to 15 yards on the ground the first two quarters.
The Tar Heels, though, couldn’t figure things out on offense. They gave up three turnovers, though a pair of quick touchdowns by Jheranie Boyd that kept them in the game.
When Renner was bad, he looked awful. He was intercepted by Jonathan Meeks on North Carolina’s first drive to set up a 37-yard field goal by Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro.
Renner gave the Tar Heels hope of a comeback after Kourtnei Brown’s interception score when he connected with Jheranie Boyd on a 58-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 24-17 at the half. But the Tigers, perhaps inspired when they came out for the third quarter through two rows of the 1981 championship team, quickly put the game away.
Clemson tailback Andre Ellington, who rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland, was held to 7 yards rushing. He spent time on the sidelines as trainers examined his left foot opening half, but continued to play. Ellington had a foot injury that kept him out for most of the final five games of 2010.