No. 12 Clemson powers past Ball State 52-27
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Tajh Boyd loves what he's seen so far from Clemson's offense. And the quarterback is looking forward to the return of star receiver Sammy Watkins.
"Oh, man," Boyd said with a smile. "It's going to get ugly."
Sure could, especially considering the impressive numbers by the 12th-ranked Tigers without the suspended All-American.
DeAnde Hopkins caught three touchdown passes, Andre Ellington rushed for two scores and punter Spencer Benton kicked a 61-yard field goal to break an Atlantic Coast Conference record in Clemson's 52-27 victory over Ball State on Saturday.
It was the second straight game the Tigers surpassed 500 yards on offense. Can Watkins' return mean add another couple hundred yards to coordinator Chad Morris' attack?
"I just want to win," Morris said laughing. "I don't care if it's a hundred yards."
Ellington's two short TD runs helped the Tigers (2-0) get off to a fast start, and Boyd found Hopkins for touchdown passes of 13, 34 and 15 yards in the second period to help increase the lead to 35-10.
Benton closed the Tigers' 45-point half — the team's best since scoring 49 in the opening half against Wake Forest during its 1981 national championship season — with his record-setting kick as time ran out.
Ball State (1-1) had hoped to use its fast-paced attack to keep up. But Keith Wenning threw two interceptions, both leading to Clemson scores.
About everything went the Tigers' way in the first half, including the long-range try by Benton, Clemson's punter and kickoff specialist who missed a 55-yard attempt last week at the Georgia Dome against Auburn. He came on with a few seconds left before halftime and snuck this kick between the goal posts.
"It felt pretty good when I hit it," Benton said. "I saw it coming off and thinking, 'Go. Go. Go.' Then I saw everybody in the background jump up and I was like, 'Yes.'"
Benton's kick surpassed the ACC mark of 60 set by Gary Cismesia of Florida State in a 2007 game against Florida. Benton also moved past a pair of former NFL players, Obed Ariri and Chris Gardocki, who each kicked 57-yard field goals for the previous school mark.
Clemson and Ball State have quick-snap, fast-paced offensive systems, so this one figured to be a shootout. Instead, Boyd, Ellington and Hopkins took all the drama out the game early.
"I think we're capable of playing better than we did," Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. "I've got to do a better job of getting us ready to come into these kinds of environments."
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