CLEMSON — No. 6 Clemson made it through three complete games without giving up a defensive touchdown for the first time since 1950, and while the offense sputtered again, the Tigers held on for a 14-8 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The game was stopped for nearly two hours because of lightning in the area. Play was halted with 32 seconds left in the second quarter, and the teams decided to use the delay as halftime. So after Georgia Tech kicked a field goal to end the first half, the Yellow Jackets got the ball on the ensuing kickoff to start the third quarter.
It was the most bizarre event in a game that never seemed to get into a flow. Between injuries, targeting reviews and penalties, both teams sputtered for much of the day as the game took over five hours to fully complete.
The stars of the game came on the defensive side of the ball for Clemson (2-1), which held the Yellow Jackets (1-2) to 298 yards and produced four sacks. The game came down to the wire, though, after Georgia Tech closed to within eight with 1:19 and then recovered the ensuing onside kick.
GT quarterback Jordan Yates got his team inside the Clemson 15 with 39 seconds left, but the Tigers kept the visiting team out of the end zone from inside the 5-yard line. A team that Clemson beat by 66 points last year kept the Tigers on the ropes this season.
But the defense bailed out an offense that only totaled 285 yards. Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei went 18-of-25 passing for 126 yards. He had no touchdown passes or interceptions but did rush for 46 yards on eight carries. However, Uiagalelei turned the ball over in the second half on a fumble.
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Will Shipley scored both of Clemson's touchdowns via the ground, but a fumble led to a GT safety.
Key play: Clemson linebacker James Skalski read the inside shovel pass at the Tigers 2 and brought down the ball carrier to keep Georgia Tech from scoring a touchdown and getting within a two-point conversion of a tie.
Player of the game: In his first career start, LaVonta Bentley had a career game. The sophomore linebacker produced 13 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and a sack. He had 22 tackles in his career coming into Saturday.
Freshman impact: Not only did he have two rushing scores, but the freshman also produced 89 yards on the ground. Shipley took a handoff three yards into the end zone, powering through Tech defenders in the fourth quarter that put Clemson up 14-3 with 8:12 to play.
Coach's decision: Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector didn't play Saturday. He wasn't on the unavailability report and the senior did dress out but never entered the game. There was no indication of any injury this week, and he wouldn't have been allowed on the sideline if he was in COVID-19 protocol he wouldn't have been on the sideline. Swinney will likely update Spector's status in the postgame press conference.
Stat of the game: Georgia Tech, which is still coming out of former coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense era, had 77 more passing yards than Clemson.
Up next: Clemson heads up 85-North across the border for the second time this season when the Tigers visit N.C. State for the first true road Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Wolfpack went into their Week 3 game against Furman 1-1 on the season.
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