Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to play his best football when the game is on the line.
The junior threw a pair of interceptions against Florida State but rebounded to lead the Tigers on a game-winning drive as Clemson topped the Seminoles 37-34 for its first win at Doak Campbell Stadium in 10 years.
Watson is a big reason why Clemson is 16-2 in its last 18 games decided by a touchdown or less as he always seems to play his best football late in the game.
Watson completed 7 of 11 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Seminoles, carving up the FSU secondary.
“He’s just such a leader,” Tigers tight end Jordan Leggett said. “After those two interceptions really nothing changed. It was just on to the next play and we just kept getting it done. Having him out there on the field just makes us all calm down.”
Watson is the first Clemson quarterback to record consecutive victories over Florida State. He said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told him before the game that only three quarterbacks, with one being Philip Rivers, have ever beaten FSU back-to-back.
“It’s special to be in that group,” Watson said. “It’s hard to win, especially against these guys. Beating them back-to-back, it’s a great football team and great university. It’s just special.”
Leggett was having a bit of an underwhelming season entering Saturday’s showdown but came up huge for Clemson against the Seminoles.
The senior was averaging about two catches and 33 yards per game before exploding with five grabs for 122 yards, including the game-winning score.
Leggett said he thought he had a good chance to have a breakout game against Florida State based off of what he saw on film.
“With the coverages that they’ve been doing, from last year to this year it was the same kind of. It enabled me to have a better game,” he said. “We were going to see if they did fix it from last year having the middle of the field wide open like that but I mean they really just didn’t.”
TIGERS HAVE SEEN ENOUGH OF COOK
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook took over the game in the third quarter, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the period.
On consecutive carries he had touchdown runs of 43 and 70 yards.
“Dad gum, No. 4 – I hope he’s leaving. He’s a great player,” Swinney said.
While Cook had several impressive carries it was a run that did not count that had FSU coach Jimbo Fisher upset.
On his next carry after his back-to-back touchdown runs, Cook broke off a run for a long gain, but the gain was erased due to a chop block. Fisher, as well as his assistants, argued the call, and someone on the sideline was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on top of the chop block.
Florida State ended up punting on the drive.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s not a chop block. It was not a chop block. And I’m going to tell you what, you hold coaches accountable, players accountable, hold the (dang) officials accountable. It’s garbage,” Fisher said. “And then to call another penalty on the sideline is even more garbage. It’s cowardly. It’s gutless and wrong.
Clemson safety Jadar Johnson recorded his team-leading fourth interception of the year in the second quarter, picking off FSU quarterback Deondre Francois on a deep pass.
Johnson left the game early in the second half with an injury and did not return.