CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Cade Klubnik was 23 of 34 for 205 yards and four touchdowns and Clemson’s defense held one of the best offenses in the country to 250 yards and picked off four passes as the Tigers beat Georgia Tech 42-21 on Saturday.
Will Shipley returned from a missed game in the concussion protocol to run for 77 yards on 11 carries and catch three passes for 30 yards for Clemson (5-4, 3-4 Atlantic Coast). His understudy Phil Mafah led the team with 96 yards, just missing his second 100-yard game in a row.
The win made the Tigers bowl eligible much later than they are used to, but Clemson played as complete a game as they have in a season that for their recent playoff-level expectations had a dreadful start.
The offense for Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3) came into this one second in the ACC averaging 465 yards a game. But Clemson’s aggressive defense was everywhere.
The Yellow Jackets had just five first downs and 100 yards in the first three quarters. Quarterback King Haynes had by far his worst game of the season completing 13 of his 31 passes for 129 yards and rushing 11 times for minus-3 yards.
In this up-and-down season, Klubnik made mostly good choices Saturday. On a second quarter third down at the Georgia Tech 3, Klubnik first shook off receiver Tyler Brown in the backfield then found him for a one handed catch in the end zone to give the Tigers the lead for good at 14-7.
And when Klubnik did make a mistake, like his one interception up 28-7 in the third quarter, the defense got the ball back five plays later on a pick by Avieon Terrell.
The Tigers have won nine straight over the Yellow Jackets and Georgia Techs last win in Clemson was in 2008 — the first game for then interim Tigers coach Dabo Swinney.
Georgia Tech: It was a bad game all around for the Yellow Jackets, but four interceptions would have been almost impossible to overcome in any context. Georgia Tech will have to shake this one off quickly to get the one more win needed to go to a bowl. Next week is Syracuse, then looming the Saturday after Thanksgiving is No. 1 Georgia.
Clemson: No playoff bid or ACC title for the Tigers after their 4-4 start, but they have had their best two games in victories over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Clemson might be back in the AP Top 25 before this season ends.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets host Syracuse next Saturday night.
Clemson: The Tigers host No. 24 North Carolina next Saturday.