Clemson, SC – Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and ran ranked Clemson took down No. 11 Florida State, 35-30, in a thriller in Death Valley.
Boyd went 23-for-37 with 344 yards and an interception for the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC), who took down defending champion and then-No. 21 Auburn last Saturday.
Sammy Watkins caught eight passes for 141 yards and two scores while Dwayne Allen had four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown for Clemson, which plays at Virginia Tech next Saturday.
"This was a great win. I'm so proud of our guys," said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinner. "They continue to show heart. We're 4-0. That's where we want to be. Our guys have embraced this tough schedule and really stepped up. Florida State is a good football team. They have talented players. They were the Atlantic Division champions until someone knocked them off, and we knocked them off today."
Clint Trickett threw three touchdown passes and an interception on 24-for-38 passing with 336 yards for the Seminoles (2-2, 0-1), who lost at home against Oklahoma last Saturday. Rodney Smith had four catches for 118 yards and a score.
"We just played another hard-fought football game," said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. "Give Clemson credit, they have a really good and talented football team. They did a great job making plays when they had to. They made a lot of big plays. We were our own worst enemy a lot of times today, leaving them on the field by not getting off the field on third-and-long."
Trailing by 11 points, Florida State scored on the first play of the fourth quarter as Rashad Greene caught a pass from Trickett over his shoulder down the right sideline on a 30-yard score. The two-point conversion failed and it was a 28-23 game.
Clemson needed less than two minutes to get the points back. On the sixth play of the drive, Boyd hit Watkins with a pass just past midfield and Watkins broke free of a tackler before racing into the end zone on a 62-yard score for a 35-23 lead.
After an exchange of punts, the Seminoles were able to quickly get in the end zone as a four-play drive that began at the FSU 22 was finished on a nine-yard score over the middle from Trickett to Kenny Shaw, making it a 35-30 game with 7:21 to go.
Clemson was able to kill off a good portion of the clock and faced a 4th-and-1 at the FSU 23. The team opted to go for it, but Andre Ellington was stuffed on the pitchout to the right and Florida State took over with under three minutes to play.
The Seminoles got the ball near midfield, but a false start penalty on 4th- and-4 pushed the ball back five yards and Trickett was sacked by Rennie Moore to seal the victory.
The Seminoles started the game with the ball and were able to put three points up on the board as Dustin Hopkins capped a nine-play, 67-yard drive with a 32-yard field goal.
The Tigers, though, answered with a touchdown to take a lead they never relinquished. On the seventh play of the 80-yard drive, Boyd and Watkins hooked up on a 24-yard score for a 7-3 lead.
After a Florida State three-and-out, Clemson got the ball back at its own 23. Facing a 1st-and-10 near midfield, Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins got together on a 50-yard catch to set up a 1st-and-goal at the two-yard line. Two plays later, Boyd took it in himself on a one-yard run for a 14-3 lead.
The Seminoles had a quick answer to make it a four-point game. On the fifth play, Trickett stepped to the left side and lofted a deep bomb that Smith caught over his shoulder near the goalline on a 57-yard score with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
The only score of the second quarter was Clemson's. Boyd hit Allen on the right side and the big tight end took the ball into the end zone from 12 yards out for a 21-10 lead just 3 1/2 minutes into the frame.
Chandler Catanzaro missed a 35-yard field goal in the second while Florida State never made it past midfield in the frame.
Clemson started the second half with the ball, but a turnover allowed Florida State to put points on the board. Boyd was flushed out of the pocket and lost his balance. Before he hit the ground, he attempted to get rid of the ball but had nothing on the throw. Bjoern Werner came down with the ball and took it into the end zone untouched for a 25-yard score to make it a 21-17 game just 1:20 in.
After an exchange of possessions, the Tigers were able to get the points back on an 11-play drive that covered 70 yards with Ellington taking the ball in between blockers at the left side on a one-yard score and a 28-17 lead with 3:03 left in the third.
Ellington finished the game with 71 yards on 23 carries...Greene had eight catches for 98 yards in the loss...Clemson controlled the ball for 35 1/2 minutes and had 455 yards of offense, compared to 365 yards for Florida State, including just 29 yards on the ground...Florida State has off next week before playing at Wake Forest...Clemson has won five straight home contests against Florida State and six of the last nine, overall.