A little rain wasn’t going to spoil Deshaun Watson’s revenge.
Sixth-ranked Clemson and its talented sophomore quarterback staggered Georgia Tech early Saturday with a combination of punches and polished off the Yellow Jackets 43-24 for the Tigers’ fifth-straight win.
A year ago, Georgia Tech slapped Clemson by three touchdowns after Watson tore a knee ligament in Atlanta, but one week after a two-point over Notre Dame in a game-long rainstorm, Clemson ignored the morning rain and threatening skies over Death Valley and lit up Georgia Tech for a record-tying 13th straight home victory.
In tying streaks in Death Valley (2011-13) and Riggs Field (1927-31), Clemson maintained the nation’s fourth longest home win streak.
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Watson completed 19 of 28 passes to seven different receivers for 228 yards, including two touchdown passes to tight end Jordan Leggett. During a stretch in the first half, Watson completed 10 straight passes.
Wayne Gallman rushed for two touchdowns and 115 yards — his third game with at least 100 — including a career-best 66-yard touchdown 65 seconds into the game that was also Clemson’s longest scoring play of the season.
And the Clemson defense virtually smothered Georgia Tech’s option offense. Tech scored a field goal following a fumble, converted a touchdown pass on busted coverage in the second quarter and added another in the third when a snap sailed into the end zone.
Gallman’s touchdowns, a 21-yard field goal by Greg Huegel and a safety off a blocked punt staked Clemson to a 19-3 lead in the first quarter. Watson hit Leggett for 29- and 8-yard scores and Clemson led 33-10 at the half.
Zack Brooks added a 35-yard touchdown run in the third. Ammon Lakip kicked a 42-yard field goal in the fourth.
Tech’s vaunted option scheme, the nation’s No. 6 rush offense, was limited to 71 yards on 42 carries.
Clemson totaled 537 yards to Tech’s 230. Clemson was 10 of 16 on third down, Tech converted 1 of 12. Other than its two touchdown drives, Tech was limited to no more than 33 yards in its other 13 possessions.
Coming into the game as the nation’s least penalized team, Tech (2-4, 0-3) was flagged five times for 50 yards including a delay of game call in the first half that took the Jackets out of field goal range.
After a relatively pristine game a week ago, Clemson lost two fumbles and Watson was intercepted once.
Boston College comes to Death Valley next week giving Clemson (5-0, 2-0) a chance to break its record home streak.
Wayne Gallman set the tone with his 66-yard touchdown run on the third play of the game.
Star of the game: After the disappointment in Atlanta last season, Watson exacted his revenge with his most productive game of the season.
Stat of the game: Clemson was credited with 11 tackles for loss, including three by safety Jayron Kearse in the first half.
Play of the game: Jadar Johnson blocked a punt that went through the back of the end zone for a safety with 56 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Opening the book: Criticized last week for its conservative play calling late in the Notre Dame game, Clemson was able to ease the angst with a 500-yard performance.
No sting: Gutted by injury at running back, Georgia Tech never had much of a chance against Clemson’s front seven. Josh Thomas completed two touchdown passes, but there were a lot of swings and misses before the home runs.
On a roll: Though Clemson may be stuck at 6th in the polls for a while, the Tigers should be able to run through Boston College, N.C. State and Miami, setting up an ACC Atlantic Division showdown when Florida State comes to town.
Who: Clemson vs. Boston College
When: 7, Oct. 17
Where: Memorial Stadium