Saturday, November 3, 2012

Clemson crushing Duke 42-17 at half

DURHAM -- Duke has no answers for the Clemson offense. None.

And, as a result, the Tigers lead 42-17.

Quarterback Tahj Boyd threw five touchdown passes, tying a school record he set last week, in the game's first 25:31. DeAndre Hopkins caught three touchdown passes in the first quarter, setting a new school record for career touchdowns in the process. The Tigers ran nine plays for at least 21 yards in the first quarter alone and had 296 total yards of offense. By the half, it was 487 yards of total offense with 388 yards from Boyd--314 passing (14-of-19) and 74 rushing.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said repeatedly this week that Clemson would connect on a few big plays--that was inevitable. But the Tigers had at least one big play on nearly every drive. Most drives ended with Boyd burning Duke's secondary with long touchdown passes, even if said defenders were in decent possession.

Hopkins came down with his first touchdown pass on a 5-yard fade to the left corner of the end zone over Duke cornerback Lee Butler, who was also beat for Clemson's fourth and fifth scores. That initial score was set up by a third-and-11 conversion from Boyd to Jaron Brown in between Jordon Byas and Tony Foster for 34 yards.

Clemson was 4-for-4 on third downs in the first half.

Hopkins scored his second touchdown a 58-yard pass from Boyd Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell was right there on Hopkins, but he mistimed his jump and Hopkins caught the perfectly thrown pass. That touchdown was the 21st of Hopkins career and set a new school record.

Duke did find holes in the Clemson pass defense. Sean Renfree had three pass completions of at least 10 yards on Duke's first possession, which ended with a 46-yard Ross Martin field goal. And on Duke's next offensive drive, Renfree found Crowder for a 77-yard touchdown in which he beat and outran Clemson cornerback Xavier Brewer. That was the longest play the Tigers' defense had given up all year, and it was the longest pass and catch for Renfree and Crowder, respectively.

Crowder caught four catches for 139 yards in the first half. But he had a crucial third-down drop in the second quarter after Duke safety Walt Canty had stolen a possession by stripping Hopkins of the ball (after a 22-yard pass completion).

Canty later intercepted a Boyd pass as well, but that drive, too, ended in a punt.

Clemson, meanwhile, did not punt in the first half.

Duke did find holes in the Clemson pass defense, as the Blue Devils collected 206 yards through the air in the opening half. But that paled in comparison to the Tigers' aerial attack.

- Laura Keeley