DURHAM, N.C. – Duke sophomore wide receiver Jamison Crowder registered seven catches for a career-high 167 yards and a touchdown, but the Blue Devils could not stop Clemson’s high-powered offense as they fell 56-20 to the 10th-ranked Tigers in front of 31,894 fans at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils forced Clemson into four turnovers in the game, including two from senior safety Walt Canty.
Duke quarterback Sean Renfree completed 23-of-39 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown on the night. Defensively, Jordon Byas had an outstanding game with a career-high 15 tackles, including seven solo stops. David Helton posted his first double-digit tackle performance of his career with 10.
Clemson finished the game with 718 yards of offense with quarterback Tajh Boyd amassing 344 through the air with five touchdown passes and one rushing score. Boyd finished the game with 416 all-purpose yards, while DeAndre Hopkins led the Tigers’ receiving corps with four catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Sammy Watkins had six catches for 97 yards.
The first quarter featured an explosion of offense as the two squads combined for 448 yards of offense, including 299 from Clemson. Boyd and Hopkins put on a show, combining for three touchdowns. Boyd finished the opening 15 minutes with 199 yards through the air and four touchdown passes to give Clemson all it needed for the night with a 28-10 advantage.
Duke, highlighted by Renfree’s 121 yards passing, matched the Tigers’ offense in the early going, trailing by only four, 14-10, midway through the quarter. The Blue Devils’ first points came from a career-long 46-yard field goal by Ross Martin that pulled Duke to 7-3 at the 8:44 mark. Jamison Crowder and Conner Vernon combined for four catches on the drive to set up the kick for Martin.
After Boyd found Hopkins for a 58-yard strike to the end zone to put Clemson ahead 14-3, the track meet continued as the Blue Devils found the end zone 17 seconds later on a 77-yard Renfree to Crowder strike.
On just the second play of the drive, Renfree hit an open Crowder at the 40-yard line and the sophomore receiver outran the Clemson secondary into the end zone for his sixth touchdown of the season. The 77-yard touchdown pass was a career-long for both Renfree and Crowder and was the senior signal caller’s third career touchdown pass of 70-plus yards.
Trailing 28-10 after the opening 15 minutes of action, the Blue Devils quickly made it an 11-point game with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Connette to tight end David Reeves. Starting on its own 38-yard line, Renfree hit Crowder, his fourth catch of the night, for 37 yards to the Clemson 25-yard line. Snead added eight yards, two on the ground and six through the air, to set up the 17-yard scoring play to Reeves.
Despite forcing two turnovers in the first half of the second quarter, the Blue Devils were unable to capitalize to cut into the Tiger lead. Clemson’s Boyd continued to fire on all cylinders as he added a 41-yard touchdown pass and 21-yard touchdown run for a 42-17 halftime lead.
Canty forced a fumble and registered an interception to headline the defense in the second quarter. Lee Butler also picked off a pass at the end of the half to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. Offensively, Duke posted 240 yards of offense in the first half, including 186 through the air from Renfree.
Duke’s defense came up with another takeaway on Clemson’s opening possession of the third quarter as Ross Cockrell picked off Boyd for his ACC-leading fifth interception of 2012 and the third of the game for the Blue Devils.
Clemson added a touchdown midway through the third period to make it 49-17. Martin tacked on three more points for the Blue Devils in the final two minutes of the session, besting his previous career-long field goal with a 47-yard make. The good kick was Martin’s fourth career make from 40-plus yards.
The Tigers tacked on one more touchdown early in the fourth quarter to earn the 56-20 victory, its fifth straight win of 14-plus points over an ACC opponent.
Duke has a bye week this coming weekend and returns to action at Georgia Tech Nov. 17. The Blue Devils end the regular season in Wallace Wade Stadium Nov. 24 against Miami.