CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Tajh Boyd threw for a career high 397 yards, but both he and his coach agreed he could have played better in No. 15 Clemson's 47-31 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
"Could have been some more out there," the junior quarterback said. "Honestly, I came out too hyped. I was missing some passes, some easy throws."
But Boyd and the rest of the offense settled down, running 93 plays and gaining 601 yards. It is the fourth time the Tigers (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have gained more than 500 yards this season.
DeAndre Hopkins had 173 yards receiving on seven catches and two touchdowns, Andre Ellington ran for 82 yards on 24 carries and Clemson ran 93 plays to just 60 for Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3), leaving offensive coordinator Chad Morris happy after a rough opening two possessions.
"The only thing that's going to stop us is ourselves," Morris said.
For all the offense, it was still a defensive play that turned the game Clemson's way. Right after Boyd threw a 35-yard touchdown to Hopkins that put the Tigers ahead 38-31 with 10:29 left in the game, Georgia Tech bobbled the kickoff and had to start from its 2 yard line. Tigers linebacker Spencer Shuey sniffed out an option pitch two plays later for a safety that crushed the Yellow Jackets' chances. It was the first time either team led by more than a touchdown.
"We got points and the ball. That was big," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Orwin Smith was tackled for a safety. It was his only bad play — he gained 117 yards on seven carries. Quarterback Tevin Washington, who ran 16 times for 104 yards, also missed seeing Shuey when he made the pitch. But he didn't think it cost his team the victory.
"With a game like that, there are so many little things that add up," Washington said. "It could have been something that happened in the first quarter."
Georgia Tech had a chance to get back in the game. Linebacker Daniel Drummond picked off a tipped pass with 8:32 to go. The Yellow Jackets drove to the Tigers 20, but David Scully's 37-yard field goal was blocked by Josh Watson.
"If they had had a fake on, they would have got it," Swinney said. "We really gambled and brought everybody thinking they've got to kick it, they've got to get this field goal."