ATLANTA, OCT. 13 -- Walk-on Kevin Tisdel's 87-yard, fourth-quarter kickoff return set up a five-yard touchdown run by T.J. Edwards and No. 18 Georgia Tech hung on to beat No. 15 Clemson, 21-19, today in an ACC game, the Yellow Jackets' ninth straight victory.
"We were hurt on the long kickoff return," Clemson Coach Ken Hatfield said. His Tigers had cut the lead to two points early in the fourth quarter before Tisdel's return. "We had the momentum on our side, and that one took a lot of wind out of our sails."
Tisdel, who played junior varsity last year and ran the ball once last week for a yard gain, had brought two other kickoffs a total of 53 yards today. "He just stepped in there and did a fantastic job," said Coach Bobby Ross. "I thought that play got us back a little momentum."
Clemson had a chance to win with a minute left after Georgia Tech's Scott Aldridge shanked an 11-yard punt, but Chris Gardocki's 60-yard field goal attempt fell far short.
"We were tired," Ross said. "But we kept fighting and plugging away and we were able to win."
The Tigers also missed a chance to score earlier in the period after marching 78 yards to the 1. But on fourth down, the Yellow Jackets stopped Derrick Witherspoon for no gain with 8:04 left. "We had three points at halftime," Hatfield said. "But we kept fighting back, and certainly getting stopped on the 1-yard line is a big, big disappoinment."
Clemson (5-2, 2-2 ACC) got four field goals from Gardocki and a three-yard scoring run from quarterback DeChane Cameron with 3:27 left to play. The touchdown, which closed Clemson to 21-19, was the first against Georgia Tech's defense this season, a 19-quarter run.
Georgia Tech (5-0, 3-0) took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, scoring twice in 1:49 as Shawn Jones hit Emmett Merchant on a 22-yarder and -- after linebacker Chris Simmons sacked Cameron, forcing a fumble at the 13 recovered by Georgia Tech's Coleman Rudolph -- Jones connected on a 17-yard pass to Greg Lester.
Gardocki kicked a 38-yard field goal late in the quarter.