Death Valley farewell to Watson, Williams and Gallman:
DABO PART 1:
CLEMSON, S.C. - Deshaun Watson passed for six touchdowns, the most ever by a Tiger against South Carolina, in No. 3 Clemson’s 56-7 victory over the Gamecocks at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Clemson, who won its third game in a row over the Gamecocks, improved to 11-1, while South Carolina fell to 6-6.
Watson finished the game 26-32 passing for 347 yards, as his six touchdown passes tied a career high. Mike Williams was on the receiving end of three of those touchdown passes, ending with 100 yards on six receptions, all in the first half. Wayne Gallman fueled Clemson’s run game with 112 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and the Tigers as a whole outgained the Gamecocks 622-218.
Clemson took the lead for good after a Jadar Johnson interception resulted in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Williams on the ensuing drive. Watson connected with Williams again later in the quarter for a 19-yard touchdown, marking the 100th career touchdown accounted for by Watson. Watson’s 101st touchdown came one drive later on an 11-yard catch by Jordan Leggett that gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.
The Tigers increased their lead to 28-0 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half on a Wayne Gallman eight-yard rush, and the halftime lead grew to 35-0 after a 39-second scoring drive in the final minute of the second quarter ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Williams.
The Gamecocks got on the board early in the third quarter when Deebo Samuel connected with Bryan Edwards for a 33-yard touchdown pass, but the momentum remained in the Tigers’ favor for the rest of the game. C.J. Fuller, Artavis Scott and Kelly Bryant all found the endzone in the second half, cementing the Clemson victory.
The Tigers play Virginia Tech for the ACC championship in Orlando, Fla., next Saturday at 8 p.m.
CLEMSON HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY QUOTES
“First of all, I’m very happy for our fans. We know the importance of this game and how everyone lives with the results all year. I’m very happy for our players, especially our seniors. For them to finish the regular season like this is incredible. This was a dominant performance. It was Clemson’s largest margin of victory over South Carolina since 1900. What a way for these seniors to go out. They were ready from the opening snap.
“Our defense was tremendous all night. Offensively, we dropped a couple of touchdown passes, but overall we played great. We ran the ball, dominated the line of scrimmage and came away with 40 first downs. Deshaun (Watson) was unbelievable. He played lights out. We were able to sub a lot in the third quarter, and all those guys played well. I’m really proud of our preparation. What a great night for football.
“We’re division champs and state champs, and now we’re looking to be ACC champs. Virginia Tech will be tough, but we’re looking for our 16th ACC title. There’s still a lot of opportunity left for us. It’s fun when you can see the finish line. We’re going to empty our tank this week and get ready for a tough Virginia Tech team.
“I’m really proud of our team. Every senior skill player had a touchdown tonight - Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett, Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. There were a lot of big moments. You have to give credit to our offensive line...they dominated the game. I’m proud of our staff and our team. And again, I’m really happy for our fans.”
On emotions in a rivalry game:
“Our players managed their emotions well tonight. You can’t be emotional in this game. You have to prepare for it and play totally locked in. Championship football comes down to one play at a time. We know the opportunity that’s left for us, but you have to dominate the moment. That’s what our guys did all night and I’m proud of them. We’re excited to come to work tomorrow and we’re excited to have another game on Saturday. That means we’re playing for a championship.”
SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH WILL MUSCHAMP QUOTES
“Not a lot to say. We got beat tonight by a better team. I don’t know what else to say. They have a good team across all three phases. We got whipped. On the road recruiting, that’s the way we need to change our program.”
On what he said to his team:
“We’ll be ready for the next game.”
On Clemson’s scheme:
“They are a very accurate team on all sides of the ball. We had some opportunities, but when you are in position, you have to make the plays.”
CLEMSON GAME NOTES
• Clemson holds a 68-42-4 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina. The Tigers have won three straight against the Gamecocks, with the Tigers scoring at least 35 points in each contest.
• The 49-point margin of victory is the largest ever by an ACC school over an SEC school. The previous record also came in a Clemson-South Carolina game, when the Tigers topped the Gamecocks 63-17 in 2003, a 46-point margin of victory.
• Clemson’s 56 points are the most against South Carolina since the Tigers defeated South Carolina 63-17 in 2003.
• The seven points by South Carolina were the fewest against the Tigers since also scoring just seven points in the 2004 game, a 29-7 Clemson victory. The seven points tied the Gamecocks’ lowest output of the season, falling to Florida 20-7 on November 12.
• Clemson has won 11+ games for the second straight season and the fourth time in the last five years after reaching 11 wins just twice prior to 2012.
• The 2016 senior class earned its 46th victory to tie the 2015 class for the school record for most victories by a senior class. The 2016 group is 46-7 for a school-record winning percentage of 86.8. The class also tied the school record for most home wins with its 26th, matching the total of the 2014 and 2015 classes.
• The Tigers amassed 622 yards of total offense and 40 first downs in the victory, all-time records for Clemson against South Carolina. The 622 yards of total offense were 11th most in Clemson history and eighth most in Memorial Stadium history.
• Clemson has totaled at least 600 yards of total offense in back-to-back home games, a first in program history, after amassing 630 yards in its previous home game against Pittsburgh.
• Clemson is 80-0-1 all-time when totaling at least 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in a game.
• Clemson recorded three sacks and has at least one in 42 straight games.
• Clemson held South Carolina to a season-low 218 yards of total offense, including a season-low 107 passing yards. It is the fewest by the Gamecocks against the Tigers since 2004, when Clemson held them to 197 yards of total offense.
• The Tigers had a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, as Wayne Gallman rushed for 112 yards and Mike Williams totaled 100 receiving yards. Clemson also achieved this feat in its other game against an SEC opponent this season, with Gallman and Williams both going over 100 yards in their respective categories at Auburn.
• Clemson led South Carolina 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. It is the first time since 2003 that Clemson led the Gamecocks 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, when the Tigers went on to a 63-17 victory in Columbia. It was also the most points in any quarter against South Carolina since that 2003 contest.
• South Carolina did not manage a first down in the contest until the 12:28 mark of the second quarter, coming on its 17th offensive play of the game.
• Clemson’s 35 first-half points were the most against South Carolina since the 2003 game, when the Tigers also totaled 35 points in the first half.
• Deshaun Watson became the third player in ACC history to be responsible for at least 100 touchdowns in a career, joining Tajh Boyd (133) and Philip Rivers (112) in that category. Watson has 83 passing touchdowns and 21 rushing touchdowns in his career after totaling six passing touchdowns.
• Watson’s career-high-tying six passing touchdowns were the most in school history against the Gamecocks, as were his 347 passing yards. The previous records for both were held by Charlie Whitehurst, who had 302 passing yards and four touchdowns in the 2003 win over the Gamecocks (63-17). The six touchdown passes also tied the school and ACC single-game record, which he already held.
• Watson is 29-3 as the starting quarterback at Clemson, which includes a 3-0 record against South Carolina. He is the first quarterback to lead the Tigers to three wins over the Gamecocks since Charlie Whitehurst went 4-0 against South Carolina from 2002-05. Watson recorded his 12th 300-yard passing game and 19th 300-yard total offense game.
• Watson had 366 yards of total offense, giving him 10,945 yards of total offense in his career in just three seasons to move into third place in ACC history. He trails only Philip Rivers and Tajh Boyd, both of whom amassed at least 13,000 yards of total offense in their respective four-year careers.
• Mike Williams had three receiving touchdowns. He became the first Tiger in history with three touchdown receptions in a game against South Carolina. Williams also tied the Clemson single-game record for receiving touchdowns, becoming just the fifth different player with three receiving touchdowns in a game.
• Williams pushed his season total to 10 touchdowns with the three receiving touchdowns in the game. He is fifth for receiving touchdowns in a single season in Clemson history with Derrick Hamilton, who also totaled 10 in 2003. Williams’ 10 receiving touchdowns in a season are the most by a Tiger since 2013, when Sammy Watkins had 12 receiving touchdowns.
• Williams has 19 career touchdown receptions, moving him into sole possession of fourth place on the Clemson career list. He needs just one touchdown reception to tie Aaron Kelly for third place.
• Williams finished the game with six receptions for 100 receiving yards (all in the first half), his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season. It was the most receiving yards against the Gamecocks since Artavis Scott had 184 in 2014.
• Williams has 1,114 receiving yards in his career, fourth most in program history. He needs 105 receiving yards to tie Sammy Watkins, who totaled 1,219 yards in 2011, for third place on the list.
• Wayne Gallman totaled 112 rushing yards on 19 carries with one touchdown. In three career games against the Gamecocks, Gallman has totaled 405 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was Gallman’s 17th career 100-yard rushing game, his fifth of the season and the third of his career against South Carolina.
• Artavis Scott had eight receptions, one shy of the Clemson record against South Carolina, for 88 receiving yards and one touchdown, his fifth of the season. In three career games against the Gamecocks, Scott has 18 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
• With the eight receptions, Scott has 232 for his career to move him into a tie for sixth place in ACC history with former Tiger Aaron Kelly (2005-08). That also put Scott in a tie for second place in Clemson history, trailing only Sammy Watkins’ 240 receptions from 2011-13.
• Scott recorded the longest punt return of his career, a 28-yard return in the second quarter. He finished the game with two punt returns for 32 yards and a kickoff return for 20 yards to give him a team-high 129 all-purpose yards.
• Jadar Johnson recorded his team-leading fifth interception of the season in the first quarter.
• Kelly Bryant scored the final touchdown of the game on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter. It was his first rushing touchdown of the season and third of his career.
• C.J. Fuller had his first career receiving touchdown in the third quarter. It was the second career score for the Easley, S.C., native, as he also rushed seven times for 46 yards, the second-highest total of his career.
• Jordan Leggett had three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. It was the 16th career touchdown reception for Leggett, already a Clemson record.