Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamal Golden and Chris Milton returned interceptions for touchdowns, leading 24th-ranked Georgia Tech to a 28-6 victory over No. 18 Clemson on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a broken bone in his throwing hand, but the freshman left the contest late in the first quarter with a left knee injury.
The Tigers held a 3-0 lead at the time and were driving for another score, but Cole Stoudt entered and everything changed.
Stoudt ran twice to set up 3rd-and-4 at the Georgia Tech 4-yard line, but his poor pass on a throwback screen was easily intercepted by Golden, who raced 85 yards to the end zone for the game-changing score.
The Yellow Jackets (9-2, 6-2 ACC) dominated from there in their final league game and won their fourth straight to remain in the hunt for the ACC Coastal Division crown. Georgia Tech will take next week off before closing the season at Georgia on Thanksgiving weekend.
"We're finished with our ACC schedule," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson when asked about his team's conference title chances. "There's nothing else we can do."
Clemson (7-3, 6-2) also concluded its ACC slate and had a six-game winning streak stopped, handing the conference's Atlantic Division crown to Florida State ahead of its big game with Miami-Florida on Saturday night. The Tigers will close the season with non-conference home games against Georgia State and the traditional matchup with arch-rival South Carolina.
Stoudt completed a total of six passes, three to his teammates and three to the Georgia Tech defense. Wayne Gallman, who reached 100 yards rushing in each of the last two games, finished with 82 yards on 14 carries for the Tigers, who had just 10 first downs and 190 total yards.
"We lost the turnover margin three weeks in a row now," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. "It's a recipe for disaster, and that's exactly what it was today, an absolute disaster."
Justin Thomas connected on 8-of-11 passes for 102 yards with a touchdown and also ran for 46 yards. The Yellow Jackets racked up 251 yards on the ground, led by 89 on 20 carries from Synjyn Days.
After Golden's touchdown, the snap on the point-after attempt was fumbled, leaving it a 6-3 game. Harrison Butker added 25-yard field goal early in the second quarter to give the Yellow Jackets a 9-3 lead at the break, as Clemson managed just one first down on its three possessions in the second quarter.
"I was proud of our guys, especially defensively," Johnson added. "We haven't had a game like that defensively in a while."
Georgia Tech extended its lead just over two minutes into the second half, as Thomas ran for 65 yards on the first play after the kickoff and completed the four-play set with a 5-yard TD pass to DeAndre Smelter.
Stoudt was picked off on the next play from scrimmage, leading to a 32-yard field goal from Butker to make it 19-3. After Ammon Lakip answered for Clemson with a 32-yard kick on the next series, the Tigers got the ball back after a fumble by Georgia Tech's Zach Laskey.
Clemson moved across midfield, but Stoudt was again intercepted and Milton returned the pick 62 yards for the touchdown and a 25-6 advantage after the two-point try failed. Stoudt was then replaced by Nick Schuessler.
Butker added a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
Watson guided Clemson to a 27-yard Lakip field goal on its second possession before leaving the game on the next series.
"He had a great start today," said Swinney. "It's just a shame. He just planted. It's unbelievable. I really hate it for him. He's had such great practices the last couple of weeks. He was so excited about playing."
Watson had run for 40 yards on seven carries and also completed 5-of-7 passes for 27 yards before exiting ... Georgia Tech's Broderick Snoddy was wheeled off the field after suffering a leg injury in the first half ... Clemson hadn't lost since a 23-17 overtime decision at Florida State in September ... Georgia Tech leads the all-time series, 51-27-2, including 44-13-2 in Atlanta.