On Nov. 20, Clemson football hosted No. 10 Wake Forest for senior day as players like James Skalski and B.T. Potter played their final game in Death Valley. The Tigers gave their seniors a great victory after dominating the Demon Deacons 48-27.
On Clemson’s first possession of the game, the Tigers were able to take a 3-0 lead after Potter made a 50-yard field goal that set the record, six, for most 50-yard, or longer, field goals by a kicker in school history.
In the ensuing Clemson possession, the Tigers assembled a nine-play, 77-yard drive. It was highlighted by quarterback DJ Uiagalelei’s best attempt at being Houdini as he escaped the closing pocket, while shaking off two defenders, and delivering a perfect 52-yard pass to freshman receiver Beaux Collins. The drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Will Shipley.
In Clemson’s third possession of the game, the offense continued to fire on all cylinders until Kobe Pace fumbled the ball on Wake Forest’s 20-yard line.
Fortunately, the Clemson defense made sure to expunge the error by forcing the Demon Deacons into their third three and out of the game.
"Obviously, you want to affect the quarterback,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “We were able to get a lot of pushback, and guys were winning one-on-one... And like anything, you're on the road, you're playing in a hostile environment, and you make them uncomfortable early. That affects them.”
Furthermore, Clemson’s defense played one of its best games of the season as they had seven sacks, including two sacks by sophomore defensive tackle Etinosa Reuben.
In Wake Forest’s first possession of the second quarter, they marched down to the Tigers’ five-yard line, but they were forced into kicking a 23-yard field goal as the Tigers defense bent but did not break.
The defensive stop was in large part due to freshman safety Andrew Mukaba.
Mukaba broke up two passes intended for Wake Forest wide receiver Jaquarii Robinson on second and third and goal.
As soon as Wake Forest narrowed the lead down to seven, the Tigers extended it to 14 after tight end Davis Allen made two big plays for Clemson. At the 9:06 mark of the second quarter, Allen reeled in a 24-yard catch that placed the ball at Wake Forest’s 23-yard line. Then, Will Shipley completed a two-yard jump pass to Allen for a touchdown.
"What a play, somewhere Travis Etienne is not happy with me right now,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “We've had that play, and I've had that in there for five years. It's even called Bayou, for where Travis is from."
To end the first half, Wake Forest narrowed the lead down to seven after a touchdown run by Wake Forest running back Christian Turner.
Clemson moved the ball down to Wake Forest’s seven-yard line at the start of the second half, but after a miscommunication on a pitch, Clemson fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Wake Forest.
On the following play, Wake Forest fumbled the ball that Clemson senior linebacker Baylon Spector recovered. Kobe Pace punched the ball into the endzone for an eight-yard touchdown, which put Clemson back up by 14.
Tigers’ running back Kobe Pace and the Clemson offensive rushing attack continued to be all gas, no brakes in the second half as the Tigers ran for 242 of their 334 rushing yards and three of their four touchdown runs in the half.
"Man, they ran their butts off. I mean, it's a testament to those guys. They're the workers for the offense, and they work their butts off," said Uiagalelei.
Another highlight play by the California connection occurred at the 6:24 minute mark in the third quarter when Collins made a one-handed catch for a 58-yard touchdown, despite a defensive pass interference, that placed the Tigers up 31-13.
From that point on, the Tigers were on cruise control as they got points at will, and their defense continued to swarm Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, not allowing him to make quality reads.
With the victory this afternoon, the Clemson Tigers have kept their ACC Championship hopes alive. To make the championship, they need Wake Forest to lose next weekend to Boston College, and they need North Carolina State to lose to either Syracuse or North Carolina. Clemson will travel to Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 27 to play their in-state rival, the University of South Carolina.