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Boyd leads Clemson's rout

The SportsXchange

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd continues to pack a lot of punch into a little bit of playing time.

Playing considerably less than three quarters for a third consecutive game, Boyd completed 18 of 26 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, sparking the Tigers to a 45-10 Atlantic Coast Conference victory against Maryland Saturday afternoon.

The victory not only gave the Tigers a school-record 12th consecutive home victory at Memorial Stadium and improved their record to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in league play but also kept alive their slim hopes for a third Atlantic Division title and ACC championship game appearance in four years.

Clemson must beat N.C. State next week and hope that division-leading Florida State, which beat Clemson 49-37 on Sept. 22, stumbles next Saturday at Maryland (4-6, 2-4).

Clemson, ranked 13th in the latest BCS standings, was coming off a 718-yard performance at Duke but couldn't post similar numbers against a Maryland defense that entered the game ranked 11th nationally in total defense. Yet the Tigers were in control from the outset.

The Tigers scored at least 35 first-half points for a third straight game -- a first in school history -- and have scored 37 points or more in nine consecutive games, also a first for Clemson.

"There is no doubt we came ready to play," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "We were ready from the opening snap."

No question there. Clemson had 149 yards of offense to Maryland's 17 in the first quarter, when it bolted to a 21-0 lead. Maryland's defense, which was allowing just 301.7 yards per game, surrendered 310 to Clemson -- in the first half.

"We couldn't get off the field on third down," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "Against those guys, you have to be able to do that."

The Terrapins couldn't. Sophomore Adam Humphries caught the first touchdown pass of his Clemson career with 7:19 left in the first quarter and the rout was on.

Defensive end Corey Crawford scooped up a fumble by Maryland quarterback Shawn Petty on the Terrapins' next play from scrimmage and ran 16 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Less than three minutes later, Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman forced another fumble by Petty and Boyd quickly drove the Tigers 53 yards in seven plays before finding favorite receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 28-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 advantage with 2:42 left in the first quarter.

Clemson then sandwiched a 22-yard touchdown pass from Boyd to tight end Brandon Ford and a 6-yard Andre Ellington scoring run around Maryland's lone touchdown of the game -- a 17-yard pass from Petty to Devonte Campbell -- to forge a commanding 35-7 halftime lead.

Boyd was again the catalyst. The junior quarterback has 13 touchdown passes, 1,033 yards and a passing-efficiency rating of 212.3 in the Tigers' last three games, which they've won by a combined margin of 143-43.

Sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins had four catches for 60 yards, all in the first half. He left the game in the second quarter as a precaution after suffering a bruised calf muscle, but Swinney said he could have played if necessary.

Saturday's lopsided defeat was the latest in a series of setbacks for Maryland, which began the season 4-2 but has been beset by an uncanny rash of injuries. The Terrapins have lost eight players, including four quarterbacks, to season-ending injuries this season.

Petty, a freshman linebacker-turned-quarterback, completed just 6 of 12 passes for 41 yards and was sacked twice. The Terrapins' anemic offense, which came into the game ranked 119th out of 120 FBS teams, managed only 180 total yards.

Running back Brandon Ross accounted for most of those yards as the freshman tailback had 100 yards -- his first career 100-yard game.

It was the fewest total yards allowed by Clemson since Oct. 31, 2009, when the Tigers held Coastal Carolina to 170 yards. Clemson also allowed Maryland just 1 of 13 third-down conversions.

"We wanted to try to control the football and get first downs and eat up the clock," Edsall said. "But we weren't able to execute enough. We just stuck with what we came in to do from a game-plan standpoint because you can't have a big manual of plays with a quarterback who's just come to play quarterback in 2 1/2 weeks."

Clemson's offense totaled 436 yards -- its third-lowest total of the season -- but it didn't matter.

"I've told my players that now is the time when top-10 teams separate themselves from the pack," Swinney said. "The end of November is when it matters."

Clemson has a chance to reach 10 wins in the regular season for the first time since the Tigers' national championship season of 1981. In each of Clemson's last four 10-win seasons, the 10th victory came in a bowl game.

NOTES: Clemson has won six consecutive ACC games by at least 14 points. ... Clemson did not commit its first penalty of the game until 4:58 remained in the game. It marked the first time this season that the Tigers had been whistled less than twice in a game. ... Hopkins extended his own school record with his 14th touchdown reception of the season. ... Maryland linebacker L.A. Goree led the Terrapins with 10 tackles, including nine unassisted stops.
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