Turning Point: Clemson defense stands up, denies Duke a 'track-meet' scorefest

First-quarter stop opens the door to Tigers' runaway victory over Blue Devils

Clemson defensive end Josh Watson celebrates after sacking Duke's Sean Renfree.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson defensive end Josh Watson celebrates after sacking Duke's Sean Renfree.

The Tigers set offensive records, threatened others, and rolled past Duke, 56-20 - in the process scoring enough points to cover a plethora of defensive mistakes.

But this game - an essential one for the Tigers - never evolved into an offensive free-for-all.

Credit Clemson's defense for turning the tide, decisively, in the Tigers' favor.

The Tigers scored the first four times they touched the football. Duke, likewise, scored on its first two possessions.

Leading 14-10 midway through the first quarter, the Tigers took charge.

First, Tajh Boyd struck for his third straight touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, putting Clemson on top 21-10. Then, the Tiger defense said 'no' to a scorefest.

On a third-and-three play from the Duke 32, Josh Watson got his hand on the football on a pass by Sean Renfree. Duke was forced to punt for the first time in the game.

Clemson took the ball at its own 20, and via a 21-yard pass from Boyd to Sammy Watkins, a 24-yard run by Boyd, and a 30-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to Watkins, grabbed the game by the throat.

The Tigers never let up. They rolled to a 42-17 halftime lead, and then chewed up the clock en route to a final 56-20 victory.

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