A balanced offensive attack and timely defensive plays led Clemson (9-1, 7-0 ACC) to a 31-16 win over Louisville (6-4, 3-4 ACC) on Military Appreciation Day on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers improved to 8-0 all-time against the Cardinals and clinched the ACC Atlantic Division outright with the victory.
Clemson won its 39th consecutive home game to extend the longest home winning streak in ACC history and tie the 2005-11 Oklahoma Sooners for the ninth-longest home winning streak in FBS history.
Wide receiver Antonio Williams registered a career-high 106 all-purpose yards including 83 yards on a Clemson-freshman-record-tying 10 receptions and added a six-yard pass completion as well. Running backs Phil Mafah (10 carries, 106 yards and a touchdown) and Will Shipley (19 carries, 97 yards and a touchdown) led the Tigers to 248 rushing yards on the day.
In addition to forcing five three-and-outs, Clemson’s defense registered two takeaways, four sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. led Clemson’s in total tackles with 12, while linebacker Barrett Carter posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception.
Clemson opened the game with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive. A 24-yard pass to Joseph Ngata on third-and-15 started the Tigers’ momentum, and DJ Uiagalelei finished the drive by running for an 11-yard rushing touchdown, his career-high fifth of the season.
Clemson’s defense shut down Louisville’s ensuing drive and forced the Cardinals to go three-and-out in back-to-back drives. B.T. Potter added another three points for Clemson to make the score 10-0 with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
A Tiyon Evans touchdown run got the Cardinals on the scoreboard with 14:17 left in the first half, making the score 10-7. aBefore the end of the half, Uiagalelei led Clemson 80 yards in a drive that ate up 3:40 of game time. A four-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Williams put Clemson up 17-7 at the half.
On the Tigers’ first drive of the second half, Williams kept the drive alive with a key reception on third-and-4. Two plays later, Shipley broke into open field on a rush up the middle, hurdled a defender at the 10-yard line and found the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown, his 12th of the season and 23rd of his career.
A 54-yard reception from Tyler Hudson gave Louisville the ball inside the Clemson five-yard line, but Clemson’s defense responded with a goal-line stand. Louisville settled for a 22-yard field goal, making the score 24-10.
Mafah helped seal the victory with a 39-yard touchdown for Clemson late in the fourth quarter. Louisville scored another touchdown on the game’s final play to make the final score 31-16.
Next week, Clemson will host Miami (Fla.) on Saturday, Nov. 19 for a game that has been designated as Senior Day at Death Valley.