Clemson Upsets Florida State in ACC Showdown


Sept. 24, 2011

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as No. 21 Clemson opened Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 35-30 victory over No. 11 Florida State on Saturday.

Boyd threw for 344 yards for the Tigers, who reached 4-0 for the first time since 2007. Freshman Sammy Watkins had two of Boyd's scoring passes for 24 and 62 yards as Clemson beat the Seminoles (2-2, 0-1) for the fifth straight time in Death Valley.

Watkins finished with eight catches for 141 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game.

Florida State played without starting quarterback EJ Manuel, hurt in last week's 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma. Backup Clint Trickett kept the Seminoles in this, though, with 336 yards and three touchdown passes.

His 9-yard touchdown throw to Kenny Shaw brought Florida State to 35-30 with 7:21 to go. The Seminoles had one final chance, but Trickett was sacked by lineman Rennie Moore on fourth down and the Tigers ran out the clock.

When it was over, Tiger fans and players celebrated like they'd won a national title, swarming the field after beating Florida State the way they had a week earlier when they ended the 17-game win streak of defending BCS champion Auburn at Death Valley.

The Seminoles were ranked fifth in the country two weeks ago and considered a national championship contender. Now, they're not even tops in the ACC Atlantic after their second straight defeat.

Clemson's offense under first-year coordinator Chad Morris posted 624 yards - the school's third highest ever - in beating Auburn last week. But Auburn had been shaky on defense all season while Florida State's group gave the country's No. 1 team all it could handle before falling to Oklahoma, 23-13.

But Clemson and Boyd went right back to work - with some help from Florida State. A pass interference call on cornerback Xavier Rhodes kept the Tigers opening drive alive on third-and-7 and Watkins finished things off three plays later with a 24-yard touchdown grab.

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It was Watkinis' fifth scoring catch and a set a Clemson mark for freshmen.

Florida State's defense stuffed Andre Ellington on third-and-short to force a punt on Clemson's second series, but a penalty on safety Lamarcus Joyner for running into punter Dawson Zimmerman gave the Tigers back the ball. Boyd found DeAndre Hopkins for a 50-yard strike to the Seminoles 2 as the Death Valley crowd chanted Hopkins' nickname, "Nuuuuuke."

Boyd scored from a yard out to put Clemson ahead 14-3.

The Seminoles were called for another pass interference on Clemson's final scoring drive of the first half and Boyd made them pay once more on tight end Dwayne Allen's 12-yard scoring run for a 21-10 lead.

Trickett, who took all the snaps in practice this week, was effective in some spots and lost in others.

He launched a beautiful ball to Randy Smith for a 57-yard catch, the Seminoles' lone TD in the first half. But on the Florida State's next series, threw right to Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian deep in Seminoles territory.

Boyd's decision to throw the ball while stumbling to the ground gave Florida State a touchdown when defensive end Bjoern Werner easily picked it off and returned it 25 yards to cut things to 21-17.

Andre Ellington regained control for the Tigers when his 1-yard scoring run ended an 11-play drive withi 3:03 remaining.

While Florida State tightened up its defense in the second half, it kept hurting itself with penalties. The Seminoles ended with 11 penalties for 124 yards.

Trickett, the son of FSU offensive line coach Rick, was 24 of 38 with an interception and two sacks, both in the second half.

Smith had four catches for 118 yards. The Seminoles again couldn't get much going on the ground with just 29 yards rushing.