Branch's coming out party

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Playing in his home state for the first time since his freshman year, Richmond native Andre Branch had a career game in Clemson's 23-3 win over Virginia Tech.

The senior bandit end tied a career high in tackles [11] and established career bests in tackles for loss [five] and sacks [three].

He was a one-man wrecking crew, literally.

"Andre Branch, he was a man on a mission," said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. "He made just enough plays."

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Branch, "has a knack for rushing the passer. When it became one-dimensional, it became the thing he really likes to do. That's not unusual for a defense end. Those guys like to rush the passer."

Dwayne Allen has seen it all often on the practice field. He enjoyed watching Branch abuse Hokie pass blockers in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

"Did you see how he came off the ball? That's something that we see in practice all the time, so to really sit back and see him do it in a game-type situation, it's beautiful," Allen said. "Not only in any game, but in his home state. It is wonderful, wonderful."

According Branch, it was a total team effort.

"Coach [Kevin] Steele always says the sky is the limit for us," he said. "Once the offense got [Allen's] touchdown, we as a defense said, ‘We are going to win this game.'"

After a 24-yard field goal with 4:35 left in the second quarter, Virginia Tech didn't score the rest of the night.

"If they don't score, we are going to win. That's what we had to do and we answered that bell," Branch said.

The No. 13 Tigers are expected to make a move up the rankings with the 23-3 win road win the No. 11 Hokies.

"Great teams always make good plays. We knew they would make a play here and there and we just had to answer that," Branch said." If they make a big play, we just have to make sure they don't make a big play after that."

Branch certainly made a few big plays of his own, and certainly increased his NFL stock next April as well.


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