Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter took advantage of Virginia's thin secondary today, throwing for a school-record 343 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-14 victory over the No. 22 Cavaliers in front of 65,000 at Frank Howard Field.
Streeter completed 24 of 32 passes, including nine of his first 10, to lead Clemson to a 20-0 halftime lead. The fifth-year senior set school records by leading Clemson to 17 passing first downs and rushing for 23 yards on eight carries for a new total yardage mark.
Without the services of starting safety Antwan Harris (leg) and Dwayne Stukes (thigh), the Cavaliers started three freshmen in the secondary against the Tigers' wide-open offense that new coach Tommy Bowden brought with him from Tulane. The result was 450 yards of total offense.
"Our young safeties did some things very well where on other things their brains locked," Virginia defensive coordinator Rick Lantz said. "I don't think they're mature enough when things don't go right to overcome it."
Clemson also capitalized on Virginia turnovers, converting two fumbles into touchdowns. The Tigers' defense set up the first score of the game when linebacker Braxton Williams blindsided Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis, who fumbled on his own 43. Defensive end Jason Holloman recovered.
Streeter led his offense on an efficient six-play drive, finding wide receiver Brian Wofford curling at the goal line to give Clemson a 7-0 lead with 11 minutes 59 seconds left in the first quarter.
Streeter continued to pick apart the Cavaliers' defense on Clemson's next possession, completing a 15-yard pass to tight end Pat Crygalis for another touchdown that increased the lead to 14-0.
Streeter amassed 232 passing yards in the first half.
"Brandon works real hard all during the week, and it was great to see it pay off for him on Saturday," Bowden said.
Virginia melted on both sides of the ball and on special teams. The Cavaliers gave Tigers place kicker Tony Lazzara another shot with an offside penalty after he had missed a 41-yard field goal attempt. Lazzara rebounded to make a 33-yarder to push the lead to 17.
Virginia place kicker Todd Braverman missed a chance to respond to Lazzara's boot when he hit the left upright on his only attempt of the day on the Cavaliers' next possession.
Virginia had one more chance to get back into the game when freshman defensive back Jerton Evans intercepted a pass Streeter overthrew with 8:25 left in the second quarter. Virginia drove as far as the Clemson 11 when defensive tackle Terry Jolly ripped the ball away from tailback Thomas Jones and Williams recovered on the 16.
Streeter then led the Tigers on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that set up a 21-yard field goal by Lazzara to extend the lead to 20.
"We tackled like a high school team," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "They can catch the pass, but you have to tackle them after they catch it."
Clemson held Jones to 97 yards and one touchdown. While Ellis amassed 233 yards passing on 19 of 32 attempts, most of that came with the Cavaliers playing catch-up.
Virginia finally scored on a one-yard pass from Ellis to wide receiver Kevin Coffey with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter, capping a 12-play drive Clemson kept alive with two pass interference penalties.
"They basically blitzed every play," Jones said. "It's kind of frustrating because we know we're better than we played. Their defense just outplayed us."
Sept. 23, 8
Site: Lane Stadium,