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It took two overtimes to do it, but No. 5 Clemson held off a comeback from No. 21 Wake Forest on the road, taking home a 51-45 victory.
It was Clemson’s 14th consecutive win over the Demon Deacons.
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Wake Forest got the ball first in overtime, and on 3rd and 3 from the eight-yard line, Sam Hartman threw his sixth touchdown of the day, this one to A.T. Perry, to give Wake a 45-38 lead. Needing a touchdown to keep the game alive, DJ Uiagalelei found Beaux Collins for a 25-yard score on 3rd and 10, and the PAT kept the game alive.
On the Tigers’ 3rd and 6 in double OT, Uiagalelei connected with Davis Allen for a 21-yard score, his second of the day. The two-point conversion pass was batted down at the line, keeping it a six-point lead for Clemson. Wake’s Justice Ellison was tackled for no gain, and Sam Hartman’s pass was also tipped at the line. Hartman scrambled for four yards, and Wake Forest faced a 4th and 6. Hartman went for the end zone, but his pass was broken up, giving Clemson the win.
Wake Forest fell to an early 14-0 deficit in favor of the Tigers, but two defensive pass interference penalties moved the Deacons upfield quickly, and they got a 36-yard touchdown from Hartman to Jahmal Banks to cut the Clemson lead in half.
After a Clemson field goal, Hartman and Banks again took advantage of two Clemson penalties, and they connected for another score, making it 17-14 late in the second quarter, but Clemson was able to tack on another field goal just before the half.
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The first play out of the half was a Hartman run for 25 yards to get the Deacons past midfield. After he was sacked back to the 50, he found Justice Ellison for a 22-yard gain, and then his next pass went for a 28-yard touchdown to Donavon Greene. The ensuing PAT gave Wake their first lead of the day.
The Deacons then forced a three-and-out, and Hartman completed his first three passes of his next drive. From the Tigers’ 19, Hartman found tight end Blake Whitehart for a touchdown, and Wake Forest led 28-20 with 7:47 to go in the third.
Trailing for the first time all day, Uiagalelei marched down the field, including a 23-yard rush on 3rd and 2 from Clemson’s 33 and a 28-yard leaping catch by Collins that put the Tigers inside the five. Uiagalelei found Allen for a five-yard score, and he found Collins for the game-tying two-point conversion.
Wake was past midfield quickly, and Greene caught a 25-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone, giving Wake a 35-28 lead.
On 3rd and 9 from their own 26, Uiagalelei launched a deep ball for Joseph Ngata, whose leaping 46-yard catch put the Tigers at the Wake Forest 28 for the start of the fourth quarter. Seven plays later, Will Shipley evaded tackles and dove for a one-yard touchdown, knotting the game at 35 with 11:16 to go.
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Hartman remained unfazed, though. A 46-yard catch and throw to Banks put Wake inside the red zone, but Clemson held them to a field goal.
A healthy kick return started Clemson’s next drive at their own 48, but after a sack, they faced a 3rd and 12 from the opposing 43. They only gained eight, but a clutch 52-yard field goal tied it up with 4:01 to go.
Uiagalelei completed 26 of his 41 passes for 371 yards and five touchdowns. Three Clemson receivers finished with at least 60 receiving yards (Ngata – 84, Jake Briningstool – 72, and Collins – 60), while Shipley had 20 carries for 104 yards and a score.
Hartman was just as good as Uiagalelei, throwing six touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing for 337 yards. Banks and Greene each caught two touchdowns, while the former finished with 141 receiving yards on six grabs.
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Clemson will host No. 12 N.C. State next week, while Wake Forest will head to Florida State.