Feeding the need (part IV)

CUTigers.com continues its series of best moments in Clemson football by taking a look at Clemson's rise back to the top of the ACC after a couple of average seasons in 1984 and 1985.

In 1986, the Tigers won its third ACC Championship of the decade and the first of three straight. But after getting off to a rough start following a 20-14 loss to a Virginia Tech team that would finish the year 10-1-1, Clemson bounced back the following week with one of its greatest wins in school history and that started a six-year stretch where the Tigers won four ACC Championships and posted a 57-12-3 record.

Sept. 20, 1986
Athens, Ga.
Clemson 31, No. 14 Georgia 28

In a game that went back-and-forth, Clemson finally beat the Georgia Bulldogs 31-28 win David Treadwell kicked a 46-yard field goal as time ran out to send a massive Clemson celebration on the Sanford Stadium Field. The win is marked as one of the more storied victories in Clemson history.

The Tigers rallied three times to tie and eventually take the lead as Rodney Williams managed the game and was masterful with the triple option, while running backs Terrence Flagler and Kenny Flowers were unstoppable. Flagler, who is just one of two Clemson running backs to earn All-American honors, finished the game with nearly 200 all-purpose yards.

On defense, Athens native Norman Haynes had a team-high 14 tackles from his linebacker position. The win over Georgia sparked a 5-game winning streak, which propelled the Tigers to the top of the ACC standings.

Nov. 8, 1986
Clemson, S.C.

Clemson 38, North Carolina 10

This was clearly the best game of the season for Clemson on both sides of the football. The defense dominated a North Carolina team that came into the game with the ACC's No. 1 offense and in first place in the ACC standings. The Clemson offense was hitting on all cylinders as Flagler and Flowers each scored two touchdowns.


Again, Williams was brilliant with the triple option and Flagler rushed for more than 100 yards, a week after he scored four touchdowns - two rushing and two receiving - and gained 274 all-purpose yards in a 28-20 win at Wake Forest.

At one point in the game, Clemson built a 38-3 lead and rushed for more than 250 yards.

The Clemson defense, led by Michael Dean Perry along the front, recorded two sacks, had two interceptions and forced a couple of fumbles on a rainy Saturday in Death Valley and with a nationally televised audience watching on CBS.

Again, Williams was brilliant with the triple option and Flagler rushed for more than 100 yards, a week after he scored four touchdowns - two rushing and two receiving - and gained 274 all-purpose yards in a 28-20 win at Wake Forest. His all-purpose yards in that game are still a Clemson record.

The win over UNC put the Tigers in first place in the ACC as they went onto claim the championship outright the next weekend following a 17-17 tie at Maryland.

Dec. 27, 1986
Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 21 Clemson 27, No. 20 Stanford 21

The Tigers jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead as Chris Lancaster had a five-yard run for a score, Rodney Williams snuck in from a yard out and Ray Williams scored on a 14-yard reverse. Treadwell also added field goals of 22 and 46 yards.

Clemson scored on five straight possessions in the first half.

The defense was also impressive as it shut down All-American running back Brad Muster and the Cardinal running game, though he did end up running for a score and catching two more before the game was over.

Flagler and Flowers again led the Clemson offense as they combined for 149 of the Tigers' 238 rushing yards. Defensively linebacker Henry Carter recorded a career-high 13 tackles, while safety Gene Beasley added seven tackles and broke up two passes.

The game also marked Perry's offensive debut, as he was put in as a blocking back on a goal-line situation in the first half.

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