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Clemson Football

The Notes: Clemson 17, Syracuse 14

October 16, 2021

Clemson played a fourth consecutive one-possession game for the first time since 2008, a four-game span that included Clemson's final two games under Tommy Bowden and first two games under Dabo Swinney. 

Clemson has now won back-to-back games by eight or fewer points (one possession) for the first time since its 2016 national championship season against NC State and Florida State.

Clemson did not have an offensive turnover and has now produced consecutive games without a giveaway for the first time since a three-game streak against South Carolina, Virginia and Ohio State in 2019.

Clemson won the turnover margin, 1-0, and has now won the turnover margin in consecutive games for the first time since the Pitt and Virginia Tech games last year. Clemson now has a 65-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.

Clemson scored a touchdown on the drive following the game’s lone turnover, winning the points-off-turnover battle, 7-0.

Tight end Davis Allen recorded a career-high eight receptions, surpassing his previous career high of three receptions at Georgia Tech last season.

Allen’s eight receptions were the most by a Clemson tight end since Brandon Ford’s nine receptions against LSU in 2012. That performance by Ford remains tied with John McMakin (nine vs. Florida State in 1970) for the Clemson record for receptions by a tight end in a single game.

Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 21-of-34 passes for 181 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His 21 completions were a season high.

Wide receiver Joseph Ngata opened the scoring on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Uiagalelei in the second quarter.

The touchdown reception was Ngata’s first of the season and the fourth of his career. It was his first since Nov. 16, 2019 against Wake Forest.

Running back Kobe Pace led Clemson with 14 carries for 76 rushing yards with a touchdown.

Pace gave Clemson the lead at halftime on a two-yard touchdown run with nine seconds remaining in the first half. 

With Pace’s touchdown, Clemson outscored Syracuse, 7-0, in the “Middle Eight,” defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. This game represented Clemson’s first time winning the Middle Eight this season; Clemson is now 53-2 since 2015 when outscoring opponents in the “Middle Eight.” 

The rushing touchdown was both Pace’s third of the season and third of his career.

Pace has now rushed for a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time in his career.

With a catch on Clemson’s first offensive play from scrimmage, wide receiver Justyn Ross extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 33.

Ross led Clemson with 51 receiving yards on five receptions.

With his fifth and final reception of the game, Ross (140) passed Jerry Butler (139 from 1975-78) to enter the Top 15 in Clemson history in career receptions. 

With 51 yards in the game, Ross (2,147) moved past Hunter Renfrow (2,133) and Amari Rodgers (2,144) to move into 12th in school history in career receiving yards.

Safety Tyler Venables recorded the game’s lone takeaway, intercepting Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader in the first quarter.

The interception was the first of Venables’ career.

Venables added his first career sack in the third quarter, chasing down Shrader for a loss.

Clemson recorded at least one takeaway in a seventh consecutive game, dating to last season, for the first time since a nine-game streak in 2019.

Cornerback Mario Goodrich recorded a career-high four pass breakups, one shy of the school record of 5 set by Perry Williams against Virginia Tech in 1985.

Clemson’s streak streak of five straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher concluded when Syracuse running back Sean Tucker eclipsed the century mark on the ground. Tucker recorded only the seventh 100-yard rushing performance against Clemson since the start of the 2018 season.

After surrendering 132 rushing yards to Tucker in the first half, Clemson limited him to 25 yards in the second half. Syracuse collectively rushed for only 27 yards in the second half.

Punter Will Spiers started his 62nd game to add to his school record for career starts. Wide receiver/holder Will Swinney's career total as Clemson's primary holder parallels Spiers' run as starting punter.

Spiers, Swinney and linebacker James Skalski each played in their 62nd career games to extend their school record for most career games played.

Spiers converted a fourth-and-5 late in the second quarter on a 17-yard pass to Allen.

It was the second straight season in which Spiers has converted a fourth down on a fake punt against Syracuse. A year earlier, Spiers rushed for six yards and a first down on a fake against the Orange.

Spiers is now 4-for-6 passing in his career for 35 yards.

With a 40-yard fourth quarter field goal, Potter (38 from 2018-21) passed Mark Buchholz (37 from 2007-08) for sole possession of ninth place in school history in career field goals made.

Clemson possessed the ball for a season-high 32:59, winning the time of possession in a game for the first time since last November against Pitt.

Head Coach Dabo Swinney coached his 179th career game to pass Virginia and Wake Forest’s Al Groh (178) for sole possession of the fourth-most career games coached as a member of the ACC. 

Clemson played its first game as an AP-unranked team since Nov. 22, 2014, a 28-0 win against Georgia State. Previously, the last time Clemson was unranked in the AP Poll, Clemson responded with an 85-9 run, six ACC titles, six College Football Playoff berths, four national championship game berths, two national championships and a school-record 107 consecutive AP Top 25 rankings across the 2014-21 seasons. 

Clemson played Syracuse while the Tigers were unranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in series history. Clemson was AP-ranked in each of the nine previous meetings, including a Top 3 ranking in seven of its eight previous matchups with the Orange. Clemson, however, remained ranked in the AFCA Coaches Poll this week and has been ranked in the Top 25 of one of the major polls in every game against Syracuse all-time.

Captains for the contest were wide receiver Will Brown, defensive end Justin Foster, wide receiver Joseph Ngata and linebacker Baylon Spector.

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The Notes: Clemson 17, Syracuse 14

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