CLEMSON, S.C. - All-America wide receiver Sammy Watkins returned to Clemson's lineup Saturday afternoon, but apparently all the Tigers need is DeAndre Hopkins.
Even with Watkins back in the fold, Hopkins continued his torrid pace, catching seven passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to help No. 15 Clemson to a 47-31 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Clemson (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) gave up plenty of big plays against the Yellow Jackets (2-4, 1-3), but the Tigers' defense came up big down the stretch, allowing just three points over the final 25 minutes of the game.
The Tigers got another big game from junior quarterback Tajh Boyd, who passed for a career-high 397 yards. He completed 26 of 41 attempts, including a pair of touchdowns.
Boyd also continued to show increased mobility after shedding 20 pounds since last season, rushing for 63 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for much of the day, with neither team leading by more than a touchdown until the game's final 10 minutes. That's when Hopkins snagged a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hopkins to give Clemson a 38-31 lead, then the Clemson defense took over.
Georgia Tech fumbled the ensuing kickoff and took over on its own 3. Two plays later, Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey sacked Tech quarterback Tevin Washington in the end zone for a safety and a 40-31 lead.
Clemson's Josh Watson blocked a David Scully field goal attempt on Tech's next possession to all but seal the win. The Tigers drove 80 yards in 13 plays on their final possession and put the finishing touches on just their third win over Tech in their last 10 meetings.
The teams combined for 1,086 yards - the second-highest total in Clemson history. The Tigers amassed 601 yards, eclipsing 600 yards for the first time since last year's win against Auburn.
Orwin Smith rushed for 117 yards on just seven carries for Tech while Washington added 104 yards on 16 attempts.
NOTES: Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro made all three of his field goal attempts, extending his school-record streak to 18 in a row over the past two seasons. ... Reserve running back Roderick McDowell had made the most of his chances this season, scoring five touchdowns on just 27 carries this season. ... Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith has just 32 carries this season but is averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. ... Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson lost for just the second time in six games against Clemson.