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Boyd throws for 5 TDs as No. 13 Clemson trounces Duke 56-20

The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd did so much of his work in the first half that he didn't have much of a chance to pad his passing numbers Saturday night.

But be sure, big plays have been a big deal for Clemson recently.

The 13th-ranked Tigers scored on six of their first eight possessions and steamrolled Duke 56-20 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at Wallace Wade Stadium.

"Good to see us spread the ball around to a lot of guys," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose team eclipsed the 50-point mark for the second time this season. "I think that's what makes us dangerous, when we involve a lot of people.

Boyd threw five touchdown passes -- including three to receiver DeAndre Hopkins -- and rushed for another touchdown as the Tigers amassed 718 yards of offense.

"We didn't do the job on the back end," Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell said.

Clemson (8-1 overall, 5-1 ACC) won its fifth consecutive game, all coming by at least 14-point margins.

The Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3) dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. Duke fell into third place in the ACC's Coastal Division but still has a reasonable path into the ACC championship game if it wins its last two games following next weekend's open date.

Boyd tied the school record in the first half with five touchdown passes, a mark he also reached nine days earlier at Wake Forest.

Boyd was out of the game by midway through the third quarter, staying on the sideline for the final 22 minutes. He threw for 314 of his 344 yards in the first half. He completed 16 of 23 passes, with three of the incompletions resulting in interceptions. He also ran for 72 yards on nine carries.

Hopkins was credited with 128 receiving yards on four catches. Sammy Watkins had 97 yards on six receptions, including a touchdown.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said he was irked about the number of explosive plays a week earlier at Florida State and those seemed to multiple in the Clemson game.

"We need to win that battle," he said of the big-yardage plays. "(Clemson has) as many weapons as anyone in football. They can run it, they have great receivers, and their quarterback has played at a high level for quite some time now. They execute."

The big-play situations have worked to Clemson's favor the past couple of games. Those have resulted in huge halftime leads on the road.

"You have to make those plays," Swinney said. "You have to pick your spots."

Clemson's sixth touchdown pass against Duke came with 13:16 to play when Cole Stoudt connected with Charone Peake on a 12-yard fourth-down play.

Clemson's D.J. Howard ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

It was the third lopsided loss in four weeks for Duke.

"If we don't play well in all three aspects, we'll have a difficult time with great teams like Florida State or Clemson," Cutcliffe said.

Cockrell intercepted his league-high fifth pass of the season in the third quarter, pinning the third interception of the game on Boyd.

Duke's Ross Martin kicked field goals of 46 and 47 yards.

The Tigers scored four touchdowns in the first quarter.

Hopkins caught touchdown passes of 5, 58 and 45 yards. The third scoring play gave him 13 touchdown receptions this year, breaking the school record.

Watkins scored on a 30-yard catch with 16 seconds left in the opening quarter. Martavis Bryant's 41-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter pushed Clemson's lead to 35-17.

Boyd was nearly flawless in the opening half -- with the exception of two interceptions, though one came on an end-of-half heave that was picked off by Duke's Lee Butler.

Duke was barely fazed by the early part of Clemson's outburst.

The Blue Devils responded to Clemson's first touchdown with Martin's 46-yard field goal, capping a 12-play, 54-yard drive. The next time the Blue Devils had the ball, they pulled within 14-10 on Jamison Crowder's 77-yard catch and run on a pass from quarterback Sean Renfree.

That was the longest touchdown pass in the senior's career. It was the longest play from scrimmage for Duke's offense this year.

Renfree was the starter despite leaving a week earlier at Florida State with a second-quarter head injury. Backup Brandon Connette hit tight end David Reeves for a 17-yard touchdown play to start the second-quarter scoring.

Renfree completed 23 of 38 passes for 240 yards.

NOTES: By the end of the first quarter, Boyd set the school record by being part of 71 career touchdown plays when the Tigers scored on their first four possessions. ... Duke senior receiver Conner Vernon caught a pass on Duke's first possession. That stretched his streak of games with at least one reception to 45, the longest active string in the country. ... The 47-yard field goal for Martin, a freshman who missed his lone attempt from 24 yards out in the previous game, was his longest of the season. ... Clemson was visiting the state of North Carolina for consecutive games for the first time since 2005. The Tigers won Oct. 25 at Wake Forest.
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