CLEMSON, S.C. — A smothering second half by the defense and a season-best 293 rushing yards led No. 5 Clemson back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat No. 14 Syracuse, 27-21, in front of a sold-out homecoming crowd at Memorial Stadium.
Will Shipley’s 50-yard touchdown run with 11:26 to play gave Clemson the lead for good, capping a 27-carry, 172-yard day for the sophomore. Fellow running back Phil Mafah registered 18 carries for 94 yards and a score.
“This is a special moment. A lot of adversity. Our team has showed that they can win a whole lot of different ways” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “This is a great team win. Shout out to the Valley. This is a historic win and I’m so grateful for it.”
Clemson (8-0, 6-0 ACC) won its 38th consecutive home game to take sole possession of the longest home winning streak in ACC history.
The Tigers’ defense held Syracuse scoreless and to only 119 total yards in the second half while piling up four of the team’s five sacks on the day. The defense helped the Tigers overcome four turnovers, and did not allow a defensive point on any ensuing possessions after giveaways.
The Tiger defense produced five total three-and-outs, five sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Jalyn Phillips led Clemson with seven tackles, while Tyler Davis registered a career-high two sacks. Clemson held Syracuse to 291 total yards, while Clemson’s offense tallied a total of 450 yards.
Cade Klubnik sparked Clemson’s offense late in the third quarter, leading touchdowns on back-to-back drives and a two-point conversion. Clemson rushed a season-high 60 times for a season-high 293 yards.
Clemson’s defense kept Syracuse (6-1, 3-1 ACC) scoreless on the game’s opening possession and forced the Orange to turn the ball over on downs. On the Tigers’ first offensive snap, Uiagalelei hit an open Davis Allen for 42 yards, moving Clemson to the Syracuse 26. Shipley finished the seven-play drive and pushed across the goal line for Clemson’s first touchdown of the game, putting Clemson up 7-0 with 7:45 to play in the first quarter.
Syracuse had an answer on the next possession, knotting the score at 7-7. The Tigers’ next drive was cut short by a Syracuse interception, but the defense held the Orange on the ensuing possession. Clemson took the ball inside the five-yard line on its next possession, but Syracuse’s Ja’Had Carter recovered a DJ Uiagalelei fumble and returned it 90 yards for the touchdown, giving the Orange a 14-7 lead with 9:14 left in the first half.
The Tigers then turned the ball over on downs at the Syracuse 32-yard line. The Orange capitalized as quarterback Garrett Shrader capped an eight-play 68-yard drive with a seven-yard score. B.T. Potter nailed a 44-yard field goal with seven seconds to play in the half to set the halftime margin at 21-10.
Clemson tallied two more turnovers in the third quarter — a fumble from Shipley and an interception thrown by Uiagalelei — Clemson’s defense forced the Orange to punt on consecutive drives.
With 4:44 left in the third quarter, Cade Klubnik came in at quarterback for Clemson and led the Tigers 80 yards as Mafah sealed the 15-play drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown. Clemson’s two-point try was intercepted in the end zone, making the score 21-16 with 13:46 left to play.
The Tigers got the ball back on offense quickly as the defense produced another three-and-out. On Clemson’s next drive, Shipley broke away into the open field and ran the ball 50 yards for the touchdown. Klubnik then evaded the sack and found Joseph Ngata in the end zone who made a diving catch for two points.
Potter put Clemson up 27-21 with a clutch 44-yard field goal, giving the Orange the ball back with 1:33 left in the game. RJ Mickens secured the win for Clemson with an interception.
–photo and story courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications