Feeding the need (part VI)

CUTigers.com continues its series of best moments in Clemson football by taking a look at some of the action from 1988.

The Tigers entered the 1988 season ranked No. 4 in the country-still the highest preseason ranking in the program's history-and they moved up to No. 3 following impressive wins over Virginia Tech and Furman to open the season.

However, Clemson fell out of the national championship race in Week 3 as No. 10 Florida State defeated the Tigers in the famous "Puntrooskie Game" at Death Valley. It was the first battle of top 10 teams in the history of Death Valley. Clemson had the Seminoles deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter with the score tied, 21-21, when Bobby Bowden ran a fake punt that resulted in Leroy Butler going 78 yards to the Clemson three. FSU later kicked a field goal to win the game.

After that, Clemson went on to win eight of its last nine games, including five straight to close the season and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

Oct. 8, 1988
Charlottesville, Va.
No. 11 Clemson 10, Virginia 7

At this point in the series, Clemson had never lost to Virginia as the Tigers posted a 27-0 record against the Cavaliers all-time. But Virginia had turned the corner with its football program and was becoming a factor in the ACC race on a yearly basis.

The Cavaliers were definitely a factor in the 28th meeting between the two schools, especially when quarterback Herman Moore found wide receiver Shawn Moore on a 14-yard alley-oop touchdown that gave Virginia a 7-3 lead with 5:27 to play.

Clemson took over at its own 20-yard line and drove to the Virginia 14. Chip Davis lined up at wideout without any defensive coverage and Rodney Williams took advantage of the situation by changing the play at the line of scrimmage and hitting Davis for a 14-yard score with 1:52 to go.

The Tigers' defense then stepped up and shut the Virginia offense down to preserve the 28th straight victory over the Cavaliers. Virginia gained just 280 yards of offense on 61 plays, while Clemson running back Terry Allen rushed for 145 yards, including 55 on the game-winning drive.

The Cavaliers finished the 1988 season with a 7-4 record.

Oct. 15, 1988
Clemson, S.C.
No. 11 Clemson 49, No. 22 Duke 17

In a nationally televised game on ESPN, Clemson's defense embarrassed Steve Spurrier's undefeated Duke team, 49-17. It was also the coming out party for future NFL All-Pro Levon Kirkland, who harassed Duke quarterback Anthony Dilweg all afternoon long.

A redshirt freshman at the time, Kirkland forced the nation's top passer into two interceptions and a fumble, while sacking him one time and hitting him countless others. Kirkland finished the day with six tackles and two forced fumbles, while four different players recorded an interception.

While the defense was dominating the Blue Devils, Clemson's offense rushed for 388 yards and finished the day with 533 overall. Allen rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown while fullback Tracy Johnson had 76 yards and two scores.

Third string quarterback DeChane Cameron threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Gary Cooper on a halfback pass in the first quarter which gave Clemson a 14-0 lead at the time. Cameron lined up at tailback and caught the Duke defense off guard for an easy score.

Cooper later caught an 11-yard pass from Williams to give Clemson a 21-0 lead at the start of the second quarter.

Besides Kirkland, linebacker Ed McDaniel led the defense with 12 tackles, while defensive tackle Mark Drag had eight. Freshman cornerback Dexter Davis had four passes broken up, while Gene Beasley, Dorian Mariable, Arlington Nunn and Donnell Woolford each grabbed an interception.

Despite the bad outing against Clemson, Dilweg went on to win ACC Player of the Year honors, while the Blue Devils finished the season 7-3-1.

Nov. 12, 1988
College Park, Md.
No. 16 Clemson 49, Maryland 25

Clemson won its third straight ACC crown and a trip to the Citrus Bowl thanks to a 49-25 victory at Maryland.

Allen rushed for 110 yards to go over 1,000 for the season, while Williams passed Steve Fuller in career passing yards with a 139-yard effort.

The Tigers scored 28 points on just nine plays in the fourth quarter to break open what was a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. In all, the Clemson offense rushed for 373 yards and totaled 512 overall. Cooper and Allen each scored two touchdowns, while kicker Chris Gardocki had two field goals, including one from 51 yards.

Kirkland led the Clemson defense with 13 tackles, a sack and two more tackles for a loss, while Jesse Hatcher had 12 tackles and a sack and Beasley had 10 tackles.

Nov. 19, 1988
Clemson, S.C.

No. 15 Clemson 29, No. 25 South Carolina 10

Williams, the winningest quarterback in Clemson history, finished his home career with 192 yards passing, while running for a touchdown as well as the Tigers crushed archrival South Carolina 29-10. It was Clemson's first win over the Gamecocks since 1985 after a tie in 1986 and a loss in Columbia in 1987.

Gardocki hit three field goals to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead and then Allen went in from 8 yards to make the score 16-0. After a Gamecocks' score, Johnson scored from a yard out for a 22-7 Clemson lead and then Williams, who was made fun of from the South Carolina fans following the loss the year before, put an explanation point on the victory when he took it in on an option keeper from 7 yards out.

Doug Brewster was the leading tackler with 14 tackles, while Hatcher had 11, plus a 13-yard sack. He also caused two fumbles and had two quarterback pressures.

Jan. 2, 1989
Orlando, Fla.
1989 Citrus Bowl: No. 13 Clemson 13, No. 10 Oklahoma 6

Clemson held on to beat Oklahoma when Davis knocked downed Jamelle Holieway's pass in the end zone as time expired. It marked the first time in history that a team from the ACC beat Oklahoma and it allowed the Tigers to finish ninth in the final AP Poll, their first top 10 finish since winning the National Championship in 1981.

With the score tied 6-6 late in the third quarter, Clemson started a 15-play, 80-yard drive which Allen capped off with a four-yard run with 10:28 to play. Allen, the game's MVP, rushed for 25 yards and caught two passes for 17 more on the drive.

From there, Hatcher and the Clemson defense took over as he caused and recovered a fumble on the next drive. Oklahoma, however, got one last shot as Holieway drove the Sooners from their own 20 to the Clemson 14 to setup the game's dramatic last play.

Hatcher finished the afternoon with nine tackles, two tackles for a loss for 33 yards, including an 18-yard sack on a third-and-goal play, and had four quarterback pressures. The Clemson defense held the Sooners vaunted wishbone rushing attack to a season-low 116 yards.

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