Georgia Tech train-wrecks Tigers’ undefeated season

Georgia Tech rediscovered its explosive offense and built a big lead, and held off another of visiting Clemson’s second-half rallies to hand the No. 6 Tigers their first loss, 31-17 on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (7-2, 4-2 ACC) were held to less than 300 total yards in consecutive losses to Virginia and Miami, but their powerful running game exploited Clemson’s defense. Orwin Smith ran for two first-half touchdowns to help give Georgia Tech a 24-3 halftime lead, and quarterback Tevin Washington rushed for 176 yards and a score.

The Tigers (8-1, 5-1) rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half against Maryland two weeks ago, but they were unable to preserve their perfect record and No. 5 BCS ranking this time.

Clemson had a chance to pull within seven when Rashard Hall returned an interception to the Georgia Tech 9-yard line with 10:39 left, but Jemea Thomas picked off a Boyd pass in the end zone on the next play.

Georgia Tech all but sealed it by holding the ball for a 16-play, 58-yard drive that chewed 9:04 off the clock before a turnover on downs, then put it away on Thomas’ second interception.

The Tigers were without leading rusher Andre Ellington, who tested his injured ankle in limited pregame warmups before deciding he wasn’t healthy enough to play.

With nine catches for 153 yards and a touchdown, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins set the ACC freshman record for catches (63), receiving yards (972) and touchdown receptions (10).

The previous record holders were North Carolina State’s Koren Robinson (853 yards, 1999), Virginia’s Wali Lundy (58 catches, 2002), and Florida State’s Greg Carr (nine TDs, in 2005) and Virginia’s Heath Miller (nine touchdowns in 2002).

Photo by Mark Sturgis

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