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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – No. 5/5 Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) came up with a critical fourth-down stop in double overtime to seal its 51-45 win at No. 21/16 Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1 ACC) on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei piled up 423 yards of total offense (371 passing, 52 rushing) and threw five touchdowns to lead Clemson to its 14th victory in a row over the Demon Deacons.
“If you’re going to win a division championship, a league championship, you’ve got to be able to win on the road” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “To be able to win in overtime, on the road with a lot of adversity, that shows the character and the heart of our young men and I’m really proud of them.”
Clemson accumulated 559 total yards. Uiagalelei completed 26-of-41 passes for a season-high 371 passing yards and a career-high five touchdown passes. Uiagalelei became the first Clemson player to throw for 300 or more yards, rush for 50 or more yards and throw at least three touchdowns in a game since Deshaun Watson accomplished the feat against Louisville on Oct. 1, 2016.
Uiagalelei was perfect on his first two possessions, hitting on all seven of his pass attempts for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson’s offense got off to a hot start on the first play from scrimmage with a career-long 53-yard run from Will Shipley. Uiagalelei remained patient in the pocket and found Jake Briningstool in the back of the end zone for the first points of the game, capping an 8-play 88-yard drive.
After a stop, Uiagalelei connected again with Briningstool on a 30-yard pass down the middle on 3rd-and-21 to keep a drive alive. On the next play, Brannon Spector recorded his first career touchdown, a 41-yard score.
Two pass interference calls on the Tigers defense led to the Demon Deacons scoring their first touchdown of the day and cut the score to 14-7. In the second quarter, another pair of critical penalties helped Wake Forest to its second touchdown. Clemson led 20-14 at the half, despite outgaining the Demon Deacons, 309-129. The Tigers were flagged for seven penalties for 85 yards in the half.
Wake Forest started the second half strong, forcing Clemson to punt on their first two possessions while producing two touchdown drives of their own to take a 28-20 lead. Uiagalelei had an answer for the Tigers, leading Clemson 75 yards on nine plays and finding Davis Allen for a five-yard score. He then hit high-school teammate Beaux Collins on a two-point try to tie the game at 28 apiece.
The Demon Deacons took the lead again, 35-28, on a 75-yard drive. Joseph Ngata and Shipley came up big for the Tigers on third downs. A 46-yard pass to Joseph Ngata brought Clemson to Wake Forest’s 28-yard line. A few plays later on 3rd and goal, Shipley pushed his way through defenders and extended his arm over the goal line to even the score 35-35 with 11:16 left in the game.
A 29-yard field goal later gave Wake Forest the lead back with 8:07 to play. Clemson’s B.T. Potter with a 52-yarder to tie the score at 38-38 with 4:06 left to play. Clemson’s defense then held to help force overtime.
Wake Forest struck first in overtime with a touchdown, but Clemson responded with a touchdown of its own. Uiagalelei lofted the ball for Collins, who secured the pass to tie the game 45-45 after the extra point.
Uiagalelei found Allen over the middle in double overtime to put the Tigers up, 51-45. After allowing six passing touchdowns, Clemson did not allow a seventh, as Nate Wiggins batted down a fourth-down pass to secure the win for Clemson.
The Tiger’s will return to Death Valley next week to face the NC State Wolfpack in Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 2. Kickoff time is TBA.