CLEMSON, S.C. – Virginia Tech got off to a fast start and its defense played well for most of the game, but three first-half turnovers allowed the Clemson Tigers to get back in the game and they went on to knock off the Hokies 38-17 in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 4-4 on the season, 2-2 in ACC play. Clemson, ranked 13th nationally going into the game, moved to 6-1 overall, 3-1 in league action and knocked off the Hokies for the third straight time.
“I think, in the end, it gets down to four or five or six plays,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “A couple we didn’t make, and then a couple, they got points off of or field position off of. The effort was great all the way around. I think we played hard. But it gets down to about four or five plays, and those plays get the momentum going and then the whole game changes.
“We’ve played good football at times and inconsistent football at times. We’re still looking for that consistent football team. But we’ve been there. We just need to put our head down and keep working.”
Tech grabbed a quick 7-0 lead, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Thomas to receiver Corey Fuller on its first possession of the game. But turnovers allowed Clemson to take a lead that the Tigers never would relinquish.
The Hokies led 7-3 early in the second quarter and were set to get the ball after Tech’s defense had stopped Clemson’s high-powered offense on three straight downs. The Tigers punted the ball, but the punt touched Tech’s Christian Reeves, and the Tigers’ Tony Steward recovered at the Tech 26. That led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd with 9:29 left in the first half that gave the Tigers a 10-7 lead.
Thomas then made a mistake for the Hokies a little more than three minutes later. Clemson’s Jonathan Meeks intercepted a Thomas pass that floated a little high, and he returned it 74 yards for a touchdown that gave the Tigers a 17-7 lead with 3:46 left in the first half.
“The ball just came out of my hand bad,” Thomas said. “It just slipped out. The back end got up and it floated. I knew it right away [that the pass would be intercepted].”
The Hokies cut the lead to 17-10 at halftime on a 40-yard field goal by Cody Journell, but Clemson put the game away with two touchdowns in the third quarter – one on a 12-yard run by Andre Ellington and one on a 37-yard pass from Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins – as the Hokies’ offense sputtered in the third. Tech had just 30 yards of offense in the third and missed a golden scoring opportunity when Thomas overthrew a wide-open Dyrell Roberts for what would have been a touchdown.
The Hokies actually out-gained Clemson 406-295 for the game, and the Hokies held the advantage in time of possession (33:57-26:03). Tech also sacked Boyd five times and intercepted him once. But the Hokies’ four turnovers put them at a disadvantage way too often and were the difference in the game.
“We did everything we wanted to on offense pretty much the whole game,” Thomas said. “I thought we had a great statistical day on offense. We were able to move the ball, but it didn’t equate to points because of turnovers. It wasn’t that we couldn’t score points. It was that we didn’t.”
Thomas completed 15 of 28 for 207 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also led Tech in rushing with 99 yards and a touchdown on a day in which the Hokies ran for 199. Fuller caught four passes for 96 yards.
Boyd completed 12 of 21 for 160 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 27 yards and two touchdowns, including a short one on fourth down late in the game that accounted for the final margin. Ellington rushed for 96 yards and the touchdown.
The Hokies are off next week before traveling to Miami for a Nov. 1 Thursday night game against the Miami Hurricanes. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
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