Clemson takes ACC title with win over North Carolina

Clemson takes ACC title with win over North Carolina

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Heisman Trophy nominee and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson connected for three touchdown passes and ran in for another two scored to lead the unbeaten Tigers to the ACC Championship with a 45-37 win against the 10th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Watson showed superb form setting an ACC Championship record with a total of 420 yards and five touchdowns ensuring the 13-0 Tigers a spot in the college football playoffs. Watson said in a postgame interview “I wanted to prove that we were one of the best teams in the country and that we deserved to be in the top four.”

The win was mired in controversy as the Tar Heels appeared to recover the onside kick, but were called for being offside; although replays clearly did not show any offside. The kick was redone, but North Carolina’s attempted for another onside kick was undone by Clemson as they recovered and ran out the clock. Coach Larry Fedora said “I had a chance to look at it and they missed it. They were wrong. That’s all I’m going to say about it. They were wrong” adding more fuel to the controversial win

Moreover, Fedora’s onside kick strategy could have led North Carolina to score with a chance at a 2-point conversion to send the game into overtime. “It isn’t going to change,” Fedora said. “It doesn’t matter one way or the other, so I’m going to have to swallow it like a man and just take it.”

Sunday’s game will answer the only football pairing mystery left… whether Clemson or No. 2 Alabama is in the top spot. Winning Clemson Tigers coach Dabo Swinney boasted “We’ve got three top 10 wins. Anybody else got that? And we’re 13-0.”

This championship game saw Clemson chalk up a conference record 608 yards catapulting over the previous 500 yard indicator. We were amazed at both Wayne Gallman’s accomplishment, running for 185 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns coupled with Artavis Scott’s feat of seven receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. Fedora was quick to point out, “They stretch you with their receivers, horizontally, and created seams in the defense, and if you don’t fit exactly where you’re supposed to or you miss a tackle, they’re going to have a big play, and that’s what happened.”

For the Tar Heels, Marquise Williams had an excellent aerial attack wiht 224 yards and three touchdowns while running for 81 yards and a score for the Tar Heels (11-2, No. 8 AP). Williams said he was proud of how his team played, “A lot of people thought we were going to come out here and just lay an egg, but we didn’t.

The Tigers outplayed the Tar Heels 309-103 in the first half, but benefited from a touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Leggett with two seconds left in the second quarter to take a 21-16 lead into the locker room. Clemson’s lead might have been bigger had it not been for a curious decision by Tigers punter Andy Teasdall, to take matters into his own hands and take off running on fourth-and-15 at his own 30. His attempt led him to up just 4 yards before being dragged down receiving an earful from coaches when he returned to the sideline.

The Tar Heels took advantage of this play to quickly move 34 yards in four plays with Williams finding Switzer in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass to give the Tar Heels a 16-14 lead. Swinney mentioned of Teasdall’s play, “There was no fake punt, that was just him losing his mind, he went Superman on me. I have no answer.”

However, Watson put the Tigers back in front with two seconds left in the first half on a 1-yard jump pass to tight end Jordan Leggett. Watson was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player while continuing to build his case to become the first Heisman Trophy winner in school history.
He struck the Heisman pose after the game saying, “I feel like I’m one of the best in the country because of the players I have (on the team) with me and the coaches on this staff.”

“If you sit down and watch our 13 games, he’s the best player in the country — and there is no doubt about it,” Swinney said. “This guy beats you not just with his legs, but his arm, his mind, his heart, his guts and his toughness. He’s a great champion.”

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