Tajh Boyd ran for two touchdowns and passed for another and Jonathan Meeks had a 74-yard interception return score as No. 14 Clemson won its third straight over Virginia Tech, 38-17, on Saturday.
Andre Ellington had a 12-yard touchdown run and 96 yards for the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who relied on their much-maligned defense to bail them out of this one.
Clemson finished with three interceptions and twice stopped fourth downs to end drives by the Hokies (4-4, 2-2). Logan Thomas passed for 207 yards and ran for 99, accounting for two Virginia Tech touchdowns. He was continually harassed by the Tigers and threw two picks.
Boyd was 12 of 21 for 160 yards, 131 fewer than he averaged coming in.
Clemson tied a school record with its 11th straight home victory, something it had done twice before from 1937-42 and 1989-91. To match the mark this time, the Tigers had to count on their usually unreliable defense as their high-flying offense was largely grounded.
The Hokies put up 406 yards, but that's still under the 445 a game Clemson had been allowing. Tigers defenders turned the tide early, halting Michael Holmes on third and fourth downs in the opening quarter to end the Hokies' 15-play drive on Clemson's 18.
Instead of trailing 14-0, Clemson began its comeback with Chandler Catanzaro's 27-yard field goal — his 20th straight made kick since last season.
Meeks got the first of his two interceptions on Virginia Tech's next series, grabbing Thomas' sailing pass right before going out of bounds. The Hokies gave Clemson even more help on the drive, a short punt bouncing off a Virginia Tech player that Tony Steward recovered as the Tigers kept the ball. Boyd put them ahead for good moments later with a leaping, 1-yard TD.
Two series later, Meeks was at it again, this time, swiping Thomas' pass in the open field and running 74 yards for the score.
Clemson's attack finally got going after halftime. Ellington's touchdown run ended a 52-yard drive before Boyd hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 37-yard scoring pass the next time Clemson had the ball to go up 31-10.
Clemson ended with 295 yards on offense, its lowest output this season. Boyd was sacked five times after Clemson had allowed 10 its first six games. All-American receiver Sammy Watkins had eight catches for 84 yards.
Virginia Tech had entered this one stung by last year's failures against the Tigers. After dominating Clemson for more than decade, the Hokies were overrun in two games last year, including a 38-10 loss in the ACC title game.
So Virginia Tech came out fast on both sides of the ball.
The Hokies sacked Boyd twice to force a punt, then Thomas led a no-huddle attack that caught the Tigers' D napping. The 6-foot-6 quarterback converted a fourth-and-2, and then found Corey Fuller open in the middle of the field for a 29 yard touchdown.
Michael Cole got perhaps the easiest interception of his career — a tipped pass fell into his hands as he lie on his back on the ground — on Clemson's next sequence and Thomas had the Hokies on the move again until they were stopped on downs by the Tigers.
The Hokies got a 40-yard field goal by Cody Journall right before halftime to trail 17-10 at the break. Virginia Tech gave up just 137 yards to Clemson's potent offense in the first two quarters — the Tigers came in second in the ACC at more than 525 yards of offense a game — but struggled to get past the Hokies' D.
Clemson celebrated Military Appreciation Day and had walk-on receiver Daniel Rodriguez, U.S. Army veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, lead the team's charge down the hill into the stadium carrying the American flag to loud cheers. Rodriguez was also an honorary captain against Virginia Tech, the team he grew up following.
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