CLEMSON — It’s not really gameday until Tajh Boyd has broken some individual record. This one in particular was special enough to get him some face time on the JumboTron.
With his third of four touchdown passes in Thursday night’s 55-31 victory over Georgia Tech, Boyd became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leader with 96 touchdown passes. On it, he hit Martavis Bryant for a 76-yard strike to surpass N.C. State’s Philip Rivers.
Boyd also had touchdown throws to Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. His final line was 20-for-26 for 340 yards and four scores, plus a 1-yard rushing score himself (his team-high eighth on the year.)
He also became Clemson’s all-time completions leader (he now has 830, edging Charlie Whitehurst) and went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career.
The latter milestone was accompanied by pain, though. Boyd scrambled for a first down on the final play of the third quarter, and was down on the field for about 90 seconds as head coach Dabo Swinney and team trainers attended to him. The announced crowd of 75,234 fans held its collective breath until the moment Boyd got up and jogged to the sideline.
Boyd went to the locker room with discomfort in his left shoulder. Backup Cole Stoudt relieved him to start the fourth and immediately kept the drive alive, rushing for his second career score from 13 yards out to give Clemson a 48-24 lead.
Around six or seven minutes after going to the locker room, Boyd returned to the sideline and began throwing a ball with receiver Matt Porter. He did not return to the game, though, for precautionary reasons (and with a 24-point fourth-quarter lead.)
Boyd told ESPN sideline reporter Joe Schad after the game he has a bruised sternum and collarbone, but no broken bones.
You’re outta here
T.J. Green had two slobber-knocking hits on Georgia Tech kick returns, and Jayron Kearse and Darrell Smith also stuck their nose in there.
But freshman Ben Boulware got a little over-rambunctious making a special-teams tackle, and he’ll be punished for it.
Boulware hit returner Lynn Griffin directly helmet-to-helmet, drawing the usual 15-yard personal foul. By new 2013 rules, Boulware was ejected from the game, and because it occurred on the opening kickoff of the second half, Boulware will have to sit out the first half on Nov. 23 against The Citadel.
Boulware, one of Clemson’s more impactful special teams players and backup linebackers, is the second Tiger to get tossed for targeting. Junior cornerback Bashaud Breeland hit Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston above the shoulders in the second half Oct. 19, thus missing the rest of that game and the first half Oct. 26 at Maryland.
When Clemson couldn’t quite crack the seal on the end zone in the first quarter, senior kicker Chandler Catanzaro showed off his range to give the Tigers an early edge, propelling them to the eventual blowout.
Catanzaro was good from 40 and 51 yards on his only two attempts; the latter was his longest successful career kick. The original walk-on is 65-for-80 in his career, and has made 37 of his last 39 tries.
Catanzaro now has 24 field goals of 40 yards or longer, a program record.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Battle made his first career start at right tackle, after a couple weeks of being talked up by the coaching staff. Battle’s long been considered a highly talented blocker and the heir to senior left tackle Brandon Thomas’ spot in future years, but lacking the maturity and grasp of Clemson’s playbook.
Thomas, center Ryan Norton and right guard Tyler Shatley have started every game. Left guard David Beasley got the nod.
Clemson has rolled out five different starting lineups at offensive line in 10 games.
Walk it out
Nursing a nagging ankle injury of late, Boyd did not run down The Hill as part of Clemson’s pregame festivities. Neither did left guard Kalon Davis or tight end Sam Cooper, also with lower body ailments.
Slip and slide
The visitors didn’t give themselves much of a chance to start strong with loose hands and faulty footwork.
Georgia Tech’s DeAndre Smelter fumbled on the Yellow Jackets’ first kick return opportunity; he recovered, but his team started its opening drive on its own 2-yard line.
Then on 3rd-and-3, Synjyn Days tripped to the turf unobstructed, forcing a punt from Georgia Tech’s own end zone.
Kinlaw flips to Badgers
Georgia Tech got off to a bad start Thursday in the Palmetto State; Goose Creek’s Shrine Bowl running back Caleb Kinlaw, a Georgia Tech commit who picked the Yellow Jackets over Clemson and South Carolina (among others), flipped to Wisconsin.
Kinlaw has rushed for 1,000 yards or more three seasons in a row for the Gators. The 5-10, 186-pound senior has 1,057 yards and 19 TDs so far this season.