Tigers Dump Georgia Tech

Eric Sampson intercepted Georgia Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs with 60 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter to preserve a 24-19 win for the Clemson Tigers Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.

While Sampson provided the big play on defense, it was wide receiver Derrick Hamilton who inflicted the most damage on the Yellow Jackets on offense.

Midway through the first quarter Hamilton scored from 77 yards out for Clemson's first touchdown of the afternoon. Hamilton took the handoff from Willie Simmons on an end-around and weaved in-and-out of traffic for the electrifying score.

It was the Tigers' longest play of the season.

"It looks like you could tackle him, but I think his spine is made out of noodles. He just bends out there, and he's really tough to tackle," said Tommy Bowden.

Following Hamilton's score, Tech running back Tony Hollings would test the right side of his offensive line before cutting back across the field and down the sideline for a 77-yard touchdown run to pull the Yellow Jackets back within three.

Hollings, who came into the day leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing, finished with 23 carries for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Hamilton was not to be outdone, and this time the fireworks came on special teams. The Dillon, South Carolina native fielded a punt deep in Clemson territory and raced 79-yards to set up the Tigers second touchdown of the afternoon.

Willie Simmons and company would take over on Yellow Jackets' 5-yard line with time winding down in the 2nd quarter, but Georgia Tech's defense was up to the challenge as the Yellow Jackets kept the Tigers out of the endzone on three consecutive plays.

Facing a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Tommy Bowden sent Aaron Hunt onto the field for a chip shot field goal, but Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey called a time out and the extra time allowed him to reconsider his initial decision.

Bowden sent the offense back onto the field, and Willie Simmons rolled out to his left and at the last possible second heaved a pass that looked more like a jump shot to back up tight end Bobby Williamson.

Williamson caught the touchdown in heavy traffic to give the Tigers a 17-6 halftime lead.

The Tigers opened the 2nd half scoring when Simmons found walk on wide receiver Tony Elliot behind the Georgia Tech secondary from 44-yards out to give Clemson a comfortable 24-6 advantage.

It was the first touchdown of Elliot's career, but those would be the last points of the day scored by the Tigers.

Georgia Tech would get into the endzone at the end of the third quarter after A.J. Suggs led his team to three consecutive third down conversions. Suggs hit tight end John Paul Foschi from 7-yards out to pull the Jackets within 11 at 24-13.

The fourth quarter would become eerily reminiscent of the past games played between these two rivals over the course of the last 6 seasons.

Tech would rally behind Suggs' arm and wide receiver Kerry Watkins. Watkins, who caught 7 passes for 139 yards on the afternoon, brought in a 33-yard reception to help set up Tony Hollings one yard touchdown plunge with just 3:43 remaining. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Tigers' held on for dear life to a 5-point lead.

On the ensuing possession, Clemson was able to move the ball into Georgia Tech territory behind the running of Yusef Kelly, but a botched snap with just under two minutes remaining gave the Yellow Jackets hope just when it appeared the game was won.

"I thought it was deja vu," said Willie Simmons. "After that play, I thought we were going to give the game away at the end. I just couldn't believe what was happening."

As the Jackets drove down the field, it appeared as though the game would come down to another gut wrenching, last second play.

It did.

But this time is was Clemson linebacker Eric Sampson that intercepted A.J. Suggs, not George Godsey connecting with Kerry Watkins in the back of the endzone for the game winning touchdown.

The Tigers escaped with a 24-19 win and improved to 2-1 on the year and 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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