Clemson Uses Second Half Surge To Secure 41-10 Win Over Georgia Tech

DJ cuts up field in the red zone. Photo by fi360 News

ATLANTA, Georgia – The Clemson Tigers began its 2022 campaign with a victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Second Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.

The Tigers though still have a lot of work to do before anyone considers them to be legitimate College Football Playoff contenders.

The first quarter was a penalty-riddled, defensive slugfest. On Georgia Tech’s first offensive play, Clemson defensive back Andrew Mukuba intercepted a deep pass from quarterback Jeff Sims. The Yellow Jackets defense responded with a three-and-out. On the Tigers next offensive series, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei fumbled the ball deep in Georgia Tech territory.

Photo by fi360 News

Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets had a bad habit of gaining tough yards on offense, then losing those yards (and then some) with multiple penalties. Their defense mitigated a potential disaster by limiting the Tigers to 43 total yards, 0-for-2 on third down conversion attempts and no points. Uiagalelei admitted that the Georgia Tech defense “had a lot of good calls” that prevented Clemson’s offense from sustaining drives.

Clemson’s offense finally came to life midway through the second quarter. Will Shipley scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that was set up when Brannon Spector recovered a muffed Georgia Tech punt on the 5-yard line. It still took the Tigers 4 plays to go the 5 yards needed for the score.

DJ gets loose. (Photo by fi360 News)

Clemson went up 14-0 on its next possession, when Uiagalelei found wide receiver Beaux Collins in the back of the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown.

Just before the half, the Yellow Jackets finally got on the board with a 45-yard field goal by Jude Kelley.

In the third quarter the Yellow Jackets made the game interesting – momentarily. The offense put together a 9 play, 57 yard drive, culminating with Sims throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Jenkins, to make the score 14-10.

Clemson finally decided that they had enough.

While the Tigers defense and special teams unit held the Yellow Jackets scoreless the rest of the way, the offense scored on five of their last six possessions. B.T. Potter kicked two field goals, Uiagalelei and Shipley each added touchdown runs, and backup quarterback Cade Klubnik threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Will Taylor to solidify the 41-10 victory.

After the game, Georgia Tech Head Coach Geoff Collins acknowledged that “ten penalties and two blocked punts is not a recipe [for success] against a team of that caliber.” The Yellow Jackets also suffered when star linebacker Charlie Thomas went out of the game. Even though his backup came into the game and played well, Coach Collins lamented that “when you lose a player of the caliber of Charlie, it hurts.” Ultimately, Coach Collins felt that his team had some good things to build on. He intends to use the next five days to put this loss to bed and get his team ready to take on Western Carolina.

Photo by fi360 News

Coach Dabo Sweeney was happy that his Tigers won the first game. He lauded the defense for starting the game strong. He praised his offense for going 7 out 7 in the red zone. He also acknowledged that Uiagalelei was under a lot of pressure to show improvement, and he felt that his quarterback handled the situation well. For his part, Uiagalelei tuned out the outside noise. When asked how he felt about his performance, Uiagalelei responded that he was happy that the offense found its rhythm and “did a good job of keeping drives alive.” As the game went on, Uiagalelei felt more comfortable. “The first two dives in the second half [in particular] really felt good and the game really slowed down. It is a lot of fun and makes the game a lot easier.” Uiagalelei and Coach Sweeney both hope that that sentiment, coupled with improved play from the line, his playmakers and the defense, will carry over from this game to the rest of the season.

Photo by fi360 News


Clemson hosts Furman and Georgia Tech welcomes Western Carolina to Atlanta on 09/10/22.