No. 19 Tigers Run Past Tar Heels, 52-7
Sept. 23, 2006
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -James Davis had four of Clemson's seven rushing touchdowns in the 19th-ranked Tigers 52-7 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
On a day the Tigers (3-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) honored their 1981 national champions, Clemson's latest group showed power running and teeth-rattling defense - a Clemson trademark that No. 1 season - works in any era.
Davis, a sophomore who tops the ACC in rushing, led the way with scoring runs of 1, 1, 10 and 2 yards. C.J. Spiller, a freshman, added TD runs of 7 and 2 yards, while Reggie Merriwether, a senior, had a 1-yard touchdown run against the Tar Heels (1-3, 0-1).
Davis carried for 49 yards total on Clemson's opening drive, scoring from 1 yard out to finish things. Two series later, after Clemson's Crezdon Butler recovered Brandon Tate's fumbled kickoff return on North Carolina's 9, Davis was at it again, scoring from a yard away as Clemson led 21-0 in the first quarter.
Not that the Tigers needed more points the way their defense took over. The Tar Heels and freshman quarterback Cam Sexton managed only three first downs and 2 yards rushing the first half.
Sexton broke the shutout with a 4-yard keeper with 10:30 left in the game. By that time, things were way out of North Carolina's control, and it endured its worst loss since a 59-7 defeat by Maryland four years ago.
Davis had 95 yards on 15 carries, and Clemson ended with 324 yards on the ground, the first time it cracked the 300-yard rushing mark since a 59-31 win over Duke in 2001. The Tigers' rushing TDs were well off the school record of 11, set against Presbyterian in 1948.
Davis did not play much after his fourth touchdown and never got the chance to match Clemson's single-game touchdown record of five set by Stumpy Banks (1917 vs. Furman) and tied by Maxcey Welch (1930 vs. Newberry).
Clemson was back home from a 27-20 victory at Florida State, the school's first since 1989. The Death Valley stands were filled with former Tiger greats like Terry Kinard, Homer Jordan, Perry Tuttle and Kevin Mack as the program celebrated the silver anniversary of its 12-0 season and undisputed national crown.
The Tigers have a history, however, of playing down to opponents it's expected to beat - the Tigers followed a 2004 win at Miami with a loss at Duke. North Carolina had hoped its first road trip of the season might be a chance to escape losses to Rutgers and Virginia Tech, and a narrow 45-42 victory last week against Division I-AA Furman.
But the Tigers did not spoil their party.
The 1981 team, brought on the field at halftime to the cheers of a soldout Death Valley crowd, returned to campus Friday night for a reunion dinner. The team was inducted into Memorial Stadium's "Ring of Honor," joining individual honorees Kinard and linebacker Jeff "The Judge" Davis on the stadium's upper-deck facing.