Scores

Final

Virginia Tech 17

(4-4, 2-2 ACC)

(19) Clemson 38

(6-1, 3-1 ACC)

Coverage: ABC/ESPN2

12:00 PM ET, October 20, 2012

Memorial Stadium, CLEMSON, SC

1 2 3 4 T
VT 7 3 0 717
#19CLEM 3 14 14 738

Top Performers

Passing: L. Thomas (VT) - 207 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: L. Thomas (VT) - 21 CAR, 99 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: C. Fuller (VT) - 4 REC, 96 YDS, 1 TD

Jonathan Meeks' pick-six highlights big day for Clemson D vs. VT

Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- It was easy to spot the happiest guy in Clemson's locker room -- defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Venables had spent most of his first season watching his Tigers (No. 19 BCS, No. 14 AP) struggle against opponents big and small. But with one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's best players in Logan Thomas in to lead Virginia Tech, Clemson's defenders put together their best effort of the season.

The Tigers got three interceptions -- two off Thomas -- and made a pair of fourth-down stops in a 38-17 victory over the Hokies on Saturday.

Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) came in 10th in the 12-team conference in yards given up at more than 445 yards per game. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2) gained 406, all but 100 of those by Thomas. But it was the Tigers' defense that turned things around against the fired-up Hokies.

"We don't have to play like Alabama yet," Venables said with a grin. "Although we'd like to. But we can definitely play better than we have up to this point and hopefully, today was a sign of moving in the right direction."

Jonathan Meeks had two interceptions, including one he took back for a 74-yard touchdown off Thomas.

"I knew right away," Thomas said of his sailing throw.

Tajh Boyd ran for two touchdowns and passed for another for the Tigers, who were held to their lowest offensive output of the season at 295 yards. Boyd thought the team didn't come out as strong as he hoped for their first game in two weeks. Still, Boyd said, in other seasons, such a showing would lead to defeat.

"I think it shows how far we've come," he said.

Andre Ellington had a 12-yard touchdown run and 96 yards for the Tigers. All-American receiver Sammy Watkins had his most productive game this season with eight catches for 84 yards.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney knew it was the defense that led the way in Clemson's third straight victory over Virginia Tech.

"They had a great performance," Swinney said. "From the sidelines, I believe it was their best effort."

Boyd was 12 of 21 for 160 yards, 131 fewer than he averages.

Clemson tied a school record with its 11th straight home victory, something it had done twice before from 1937-42 and 1989-91. To match the mark this time, the Tigers had to count on their usually unreliable defense as their high-flying offense was largely grounded.

Thomas had 207 yards passing and a 29-yard TD throw to Corey Fuller. He also rushed for 99 yards, including a 19-yard scoring run in the final quarter that gave the Hokies hope of a rally down 31-17.

But Virginia Tech tried some trickery on its next series. Marcus Davis' weak throw across the field after taking a pitch was easily picked off by Xavier Brewer. Boyd put the game away a short time later with his second 1-yard scoring run.

The Hokies looked to gain a hammerlock early when, up 7-0, they tried to pick up a first down inside Clemson's 20 by twice rushing Michael Holmes on short yardage. Holmes was stopped twice, and Clemson took away the momentum.

"We had the chance there to really get up by a couple of touchdowns, and that makes it a different game," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "But give them credit. They did a nice job."

Instead of trailing 14-0, Clemson began its comeback with Chandler Catanzaro's 27-yard field goal -- his 20th straight made kick since last season.

Meeks got the first of his two interceptions on Virginia Tech's next series, grabbing Thomas' sailing pass right before going out of bounds. The Hokies gave Clemson even more help on the drive, a short punt bouncing off a Virginia Tech player that Tony Steward recovered as the Tigers kept the ball. Boyd put them ahead for good moments later with a leaping, 1-yard TD.

Two series later, Meeks was at it again, this time swiping Thomas' pass in the open field and running 74 yards for the score.

Clemson's attack finally got going after halftime. Ellington's touchdown run ended a 52-yard drive before Boyd hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 37-yard scoring pass the next time Clemson had the ball to go up 31-10.

Boyd was sacked five times after Clemson had allowed 10 in its first six games.

Virginia Tech had entered this one stung by last year's failures against the Tigers. After dominating Clemson for more than a decade, the Hokies were overrun in two games last year, including a 38-10 loss in the ACC title game.

Clemson celebrated Military Appreciation Day and had walk-on receiver Daniel Rodriguez, a U.S. Army veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, lead the team's charge down the hill into the stadium carrying the American flag to loud cheers. Rodriguez was also an honorary captain against Virginia Tech, the team he grew up following.

"Everything just aligned for me in the game," Rodriguez said.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Team Stat Comparison

 
VT
CLEM
1st Downs2315
Total Yards406295
Passing207160
Rushing199135
Penalties3-214-39
3rd Down Conversions6-166-15
4th Down Conversions1-31-1
Turnovers41
Possession33:5726:03

Passing Leaders

Virginia TechC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Thomas15/282077.412
ClemsonC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Boyd12/211607.611

Rushing Leaders

Virginia TechCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas21994.7119
Gregory5295.8016
ClemsonCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ellington19965.1126
Boyd20271.4217

Receiving Leaders

Virginia TechRECYDSAVGTDLG
Fuller49624.0129
Davis6589.7014
ClemsonRECYDSAVGTDLG
Watkins88410.5027
Hopkins36822.7137

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERVTCLEM
TD10:28Corey Fuller 29 Yd Pass From Logan Thomas (Cody Journell Kick) 70
FG00:00Chandler Catanzaro 27 Yd 73
SECOND QUARTERVTCLEM
TD09:29Tajh Boyd 1 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) 710
TD03:46Jonathan Meeks 74 Yd Interception Return (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) 717
FG00:03Cody Journell 40 Yd 1017
THIRD QUARTERVTCLEM
TD04:30Andre Ellington 12 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) 1024
TD00:50DeAndre Hopkins 37 Yd Pass From Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) 1031
FOURTH QUARTERVTCLEM
TD09:52Logan Thomas 19 Yd Run (Cody Journell Kick) 1731
TD01:33Tajh Boyd 1 Yd Run (Chandler Catanzaro Kick) 1738

Research Notes

Clemson has won 11 straight home games, its longest home win streak since 1989-91 (also 11 straight).

ESPN Stats & Information