ATLANTA – No Sammy Watkins, no problem for Clemson. They still had junior wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins showed again why he is considered to be one of the top wide receiver’s in the country.
With Watkins out with an injured foot on the second play of the game, Hopkins finished with 13 receptions 191 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson’s 25-24 victory over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
In the process, Hopkins set two records – one school and one for the Atlantic Coast Conference – during the game.
Hopkins became the school’s single-season leader in receiving yards with 1,405. The old mark was held by teammate Sammy Watkins, who had 1,219 receiving yards last season as a true freshman.
“DeAndre has had a great season,” said Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. “He didn’t do anything tonight that he hasn’t done all season. When we needed a big play, he stepped up and made a play for us.”
Hopkins’ 11-yard TD reception in the second quarter gave the junior a TD catch in 10 straight games, setting an ACC mark.
The previous mark was nine by Virginia’s Herman Moore set in 1990.
Hopkins second TD catch gave him 18 for the season, which set a single-season ACC mark held by Duke’s Clarkson Hines in 1989.
Boyd sets ACC mark
Tajh Boyd, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, threw two touchdown passes – giving him 35 for the season, to set the Atlantic Coast Conference’s single-season mark.
Boyd broke the old mark of 34 set by North Carolina State quarterback Phillips in 2003. Boyd, a junior, has 73 career TD passes.
Boyd set personal highs for completions (36) and pass attempts (50).
Boyd broke his own single-season mark for total offense at halftime with 4,410 yards of total offense. He set the school mark a year ago with 4,046 yards of total offense.
“I don’t know who got the MVP, but it should have been Boyd,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “He got drilled every time he ran the ball, but he kept getting up and making plays for them. He had a very, very big night.”
Senior defensive end Malliciah Goodman saved his best for last.
Goodman finished with five tackles, including two sacks and at least a half-dozen quarterback pressures for a Tigers defense finished with a season-high six sacks.
“I knew this was my last game in a Clemson uniform and I knew I had to sell out,” Goodman said. “I wanted to leave everything I had on the field.”
Goodman arrived on the Clemson campus with much fanfare as one of the biggest prizes in the 2009 recruiting class.
He was rated as the No. 36 overall prospect by Rivals.com and the top player in South Carolina.
After a solid freshman year where Goodman recorded 31 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss, but the former West Florence High School star has never quite lived up to his potential. He had just five sacks in 1,628 career snaps coming into the season.
Goodman wasn’t much more production during the first six games of the 2012 season. Goodman did not record a single sack in the first six games of 2012, but played better in the second half of the season.
“What a great way for Malliciah to finish off his career,” said Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “He played with tremendous passion tonight. His pad level was great and he never gave up on a single play.”
Injuries on offense
Two plays into the game, the Tigers lost star wide receiver Sammy Watkins to an ankle injury.
Early in the second quarter, the Tigers also lost starting right tackle Gifford Timothy to a knee injury.
Timothy, who started 10 games during the regular season, sat on the sidelines with a bag of ice on his left knee.
Timothy hurt his knee in the season opener against Auburn, which was also played in the Georgia Dome. He did not return in the second half.
“We had to do a lot of things on the fly to make the right adjustments,” Morris said.
Plenty of seats available
The listed capacity for the Georgia Dome is listed as 71,228.
The game was listed as a sellout by Chick-fil-A bowl representatives, but there were about 55,000 in attendance for the game.
Clemson sold just 9,100 tickets of the 18,000 they were allotted. LSU did only marginally better selling 10,500 of their allotment.
LSU has nearly double the number of undergraduates – 28,000 to 15,000 – of Clemson and more than 200,000 living alumni.
Trailing at halftime
Clemson trailed LSU, 14-13, at halftime Monday night.
It was the first time all season that the Tigers trailed at halftime. The Tigers led in the two games they lost this season – to Florida State (21-14) and South Carolina (14-10).
The Tigers 13 first half points were the fewest since the season opener against Auburn.