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October 21, 2006

Clemson runs all over Ga. Tech in 31-3 win

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CLEMSON, S.C. -There's no doubt who's tops in the Atlantic Coast Conference right now.

James Davis ran for a career-high 216 yards, C.J. Spiller scored two 50-yard touchdowns and No. 12 Clemson held Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson without a catch for the first time in his career in a surprisingly easy 31-7 victory over the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets on Saturday night.

Davis, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rusher, got the Tigers (7-1, 4-1 ACC) scoring started with a 2-yard TD run and finished with his seventh career 100-yard rushing game. Spiller added a 50-yard scoring run in the third quarter and answered the Yellow Jackets' (5-2, 3-1) only score with a 50-yard catch and run to help Clemson to its sixth straight victory.

The Georgia Tech-Clemson rivalry has typically been one of the league's most exciting with nine of the games since 1996 decided by five points or less.

But Davis, Spiller and the Tigers' D turned this one into a runaway.

The Tigers clamped down on Johnson, who came in leading the conference with 35 catches for 559 yards, yet was never much of a factor in the showdown between the ACC's highest-ranked teams.

Johnson made a name for himself as a freshman at Death Valley two years ago, catching three touchdown passes including the game winner in the final moments of the Yellow Jackets' 28-24 victory. He entered this one with three straight 100-yard receiving games, all Tech victories, and looked like he would again wreak havoc on the Tigers when he drew a pass interference penalty on Tech's first play.

But that was it. Johnson didn't catch either ball thrown to him in the second half.

Georgia Tech closed to 17-7 in the fourth quarter when its other receiving Johnson, James, hauled in a 35-yard pass off Clemson defender Crezdon Butler with 13:31 left.

Spiller, a freshman, ended all thoughts of a comeback when he took Will Proctor's flip pass, stopped to let the defenders slide past and headed down the right sideline for the score and a 24-7 lead.

Davis finished the scoring, setting up his own 5-yard touchdown with a 54-yard run. Davis has 16 touchdowns this season, two shy of Travis Zachery's school record set in 2000.

Spiller had 116 yards, his third game with more than 100 yards rushing.

Clemson outgained Georgia Tech 426 yards to 205.

It was just the second-ever matchup of teams ranked in the top 13 at Death Valley, and the Tigers took advantage. Clemson fans filled Bowman Field 10 hours before kickoff, then the Tigers came out after warmups in all-purple uniforms - a color scheme school officials said hadn't been used in the ``modern era'' of football.

The Tigers had their first-half struggles. Proctor was intercepted by Djay Jones to end Clemson's opening possession and a second-quarter drive ended on Tyler Grisham's fumble.

The only sign of offensive life was Davis' touchdown drive. The sophomore gained 66 of the Tigers 71 yards on the series, ending things in the end zone with a 2-yard scoring run.

Davis spent the rest of the half on the sidelines, slowed by a hard hit on the drive that caused his shoulder pads to need an adjustment. He sat on a back bench with his gear off as trainers took the pads back to the locker room.

Georgia Tech tried to get Calvin Johnson involved in several ways. He took a pitch on Clemson's 19 and lost four yards in a drive that ended with a missed field goal.

Ball finally tried to find Johnson with a swing pass in the half's final seconds. But Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams was there to knock it down.

For more coverage of Clemson, visit TigerIllustrated.com; for more on Georgia Tech, visit JacketsOnline.com.



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