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No. 5 Clemson survived an upset scare from No. 21 Wake Forest 51-45 with a defensive stand in double-overtime on Saturday. The win extends the Tigers’ winning streak against the Demon Deacons to 14 games, a streak that dates back to 2009, and this victory seemed as improbable as any other win in the last decade.
DJ Uiagalelei had his best game of the season, totaling 371 yards and five touchdowns passing while also finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher. Uiagalelei used his size and strength as an advantage not only in the run game but to keep plays alive as Wake Forest did a good job of applying pressure on the Tigers starting quarterback. It was Uiagalelei’s ability to connect with receivers in scoring position that proved the difference; his two touchdowns in the overtime period allowed Clemson’s defense to go make the stand that won the game.
WHAT A WAY TO START WEEK 4 🏈
No. 5 Clemson beats No. 21 Wake Forest in a big 2OT thriller on the road! pic.twitter.com/xxT2M09SGz
This loss hurts for a Wake Forest program that had not only lost 13 straight to Clemson coming into Saturday but had seen every meeting since 2012 finish with a double-digit margin. Sam Hartman put together a historic and, at times, heroic effort leading the Wake Forest offense, finishing with 337 yards and a school-record six touchdowns on 20-for-27 passing. The offense was thriving thanks to Wake Forest receivers winning one-on-one matchups against Clemson’s secondary; Jahmal Banks had six catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns and Donavon Greene, back in the rotation after missing 2021 with an injury, added two touchdowns as well to lead the aerial attack.
THIS GAME! pic.twitter.com/iSr9VPsMz3
Clemson jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but was kept out of the end zone for its next six drives as Wake Forest’s defense came up with big third-down stops to force punts and field goals. That’s when Hartman and the offense got rolling, eventually jumping ahead with a 21-20 lead early in the third quarter and extending that lead to 28-20 on their ensuing offensive possessions.
PERFECTION FROM WAKE TO EXTEND THE LEAD 👀 pic.twitter.com/c3Jn7wWRUs
Uiagalelei refused to let Clemson go down without a fight, however, and for the first time since the first quarter guided the Tigers offense into the end zone, completing the nine-play, 75-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Davis Allen and a 2-point conversion toss to Beaux Collins that tied the game at 28-28. The execution in scoring position by Uiagalelei and the Clemson offense was a preview of what was to come in overtime, but there would be several more scores before those final possessions.
Wake Forest marched right down the field on the very next possession to go up 35-28, and Clemson answered right back with a long touchdown drive capped by a Will Shipley run to tie the game again.
Will Shipley REACHED for the end zone on this TD 👀 pic.twitter.com/0AtF7MoYce
Both teams exchanged field goals before the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime at 38-38. Each scored touchdowns in the first overtime, then Uiagalelei put the pressure on Hartman with a touchdown pass to start the second overtime. That’s when Clemson’s defense came up with its biggest stop of the game at the best time, sealing the win and preserving the Tigers’ spot as the favorites in the ACC.
Here are three big takeaways from Clemson’s big ACC Atlantic win on Saturday.
The context of this game, given the result, focuses on the series against Clemson, but for a Demon Deacons team that did not trail in the second half there was also the potential of making some program history. Wake Forest has now lost 63 straight games against top-10 opponents and has not beaten a top-five opponent since 1946. As Sam Hartman continued to march the offense down the field, it sure seemed to everyone in attendance and everyone at home that these streaks — along with the 13-game losing skid to the Tigers — were about to fall. The fact that the streaks were extended does not reflect on where Dave Clawson has this program or where the 2022 Demon Deacons stand compared to other teams in the top five or top 10 nationally, but to have the opportunity to make history taken away in such dramatic fashion is going to sting for a little bit.
One explanation for the 708 combined passing yards and 11 combined passing touchdowns in this game is the fact that Clemson and Wake Forest have been dealing with attrition in the defensive backfield. The Tigers were down two starters and a key rotation player, while Wake Forest ruled out its top cornerback prior to the kickoff. Wake Forest’s wide receivers were feasting on Clemson’s young corners, either making big grabs or forcing pass interference penalties, and Clemson had its own success through the air using the athleticism of players like Joseph Ngata, Beaux Collins and Davis Allen to find mismatches and create big plays.
MOSSED HIM 🙆♂️@josephngata | @ClemsonFB pic.twitter.com/dGfmaPLBvI
The ACC is going to move away from divisions in 2023, but for one more season we’ve got a tight race at the top of the ACC Atlantic. Wake Forest snapped Clemson’s run of six straight division titles in 2021, finishing one game ahead of the Tigers in the standings even after a head-to-head loss. Clemson moves back into the driver’s seat after beating the reigning champs, but two more contenders are watching Saturday’s tape and taking notes as they, too, will face the Tigers in the next three weeks.
The first test is hosting No. 12 NC State, a team that beat Clemson last season, in Death Valley next Saturday. Then there’s a road trip to a resurgent Florida State squad two weeks after that on Oct. 15. It’s a good thing Uiagalelei and the offense found a rhythm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, because the Tigers will face arguably tougher defenses in both those games and perhaps need just as much in terms of clutch heroics to win potentially close games.
Y’all are the best, #ClemsonFamily 🧡 pic.twitter.com/1Z4fXD3msS
Final. #GoDeacs 🎩 pic.twitter.com/IjQVKuGO0S
Orange Is The New Black(out) pic.twitter.com/ESYBNbgqL7
Davis Allen… ATHLETE pic.twitter.com/9FO7NjDZfn
IT’S BEAUX TIME! pic.twitter.com/FmdXu8xk4g
Deacs strike first–@atorian_perry 😤
LET’S GO, TIGERS‼️
This man @btpotter10 is a STUD
IT’S GOOD!@btpotter10 splits the uprights from 52 yards and we’re all tied up at 38-38! pic.twitter.com/CgUnffO0L3
𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐋𝐎𝐔𝐓 🏠 pic.twitter.com/VcRrjeJbjV
Back in front ✅
38-35, Wake Forest 🎩 pic.twitter.com/cKpZTiRKQ0
Talk to me, Mal 😤 😤
4Q: Wake Forest 35, Clemson 35
Will Shipley is up to 87 rushing yards and a score after stretching across the goal line with Wake Forest defenders hanging on to give the Tigers a touchdown on third and goal. That capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive that lasted almost five minutes, which should have given Clemson’s defense a chance to catch their breath and get re-focused. Now we see if the Tigers can do something they haven’t been able to do since the early stages of the game: stop Sam Hartman from leading touchdown drives.
WILL 👏 SHIPLEY 👏@willshipley2021 reaches the ball into the endzone and we have a tie ball game! pic.twitter.com/OrweWIL09J
How about these two ‼️
🎩 @Donny22864222 pic.twitter.com/zZJa3kcQq4
Time to finish strong 💪 pic.twitter.com/xAvV4EZmzb
Tying his own school record, @sam_hartman10 🎩
3Q: Wake Forest 35, Clemson 28
Sam Hartman moves the Demon Deacons back in front with his fifth touchdown pass of the afternoon, this one going to to Donavon Greene on a beautiful 25-yard toss into single coverage in the corner of the end zone. Clemson’s defensive backs are continuing to lose these one-on-one battles, but what’s even more concerning for the Tigers was how Wake Forest had success running the ball on that last drive. If Wake can burn clock and still deliver the kill shot touchdowns, the fourth quarter could become problematic for the No. 5 team in the country.
OH MY, DONNY GREENE 👀👀👀
35-28, Wake Forest 🎩 pic.twitter.com/l66dmScm4b
Justice 😤 😤 pic.twitter.com/sfXefsP8d3
3Q: Clemson 28, Wake Forest 28
The Tigers had not been in the end zone since the 5-minute mark of the first quarter, but after falling behind by eight DJ Uiagalelei offered a resounding response with a 9-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Davis Allen and a successful two-point conversion pass to Beaux Collins. Wake Forest had a couple key defenders shaken up on that drive and Clemson took advantage, converting on two key third downs to set up the game-tying score.
GET UP, DAVIS!@davisallen17 high points the ball and scores a touchdown for the Tigers! pic.twitter.com/GNB9EVuVs4
3Q: Wake Forest 28, Clemson 20
That’s three straight touchdown drives for Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense, who extend the lead to 28-20 with a brilliant third down touchdown pass to Blake Whiteheart. Hartman is lighting up this Clemson secondary, currently totaling 234 yards and four touchdowns on 15-for-21 passing, and the Demon Deacons have not punted since the 12:56 mark of the second quarter. Clemson looked hot early with that 14-0 lead, but it’s been all Deacs since then and if DJ Uiagalelei can’t lead a touchdown drive here we could see it get sideways for the No. 5 team in the country.
💯 Career total touchdowns ✅
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