Virginia Tech drops third straight to Clemson

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Virginia Tech drops third straight to Clemson

 CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Tajh Boyd ran for two touchdowns and passed for another and Jonathan Meeks had a 74-yard interception return score as No. 14 Clemson won its third straight over Virginia Tech, 38-17, on Saturday.

Andre Ellington had a 12-yard touchdown run and 96 yards for the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who relied on their much-maligned defense to bail them out of this one.

Clemson finished with three interceptions and twice stopped fourth downs to end drives by the Hokies (4-4, 2-2). Logan Thomas passed for 207 yards and ran for 99, accounting for two Virginia Tech touchdowns. He was continually harassed by the Tigers and threw two picks.

Boyd was 12 of 21 for 160 yards, 131 fewer than he averaged coming in.

Clemson tied a school record with its 11th straight home victory, something it had done twice before from 1937-42 and 1989-91. To match the mark this time, the Tigers had to count on their usually unreliable defense as their high-flying offense was largely grounded.

The Hokies put up 406 yards, but that's still under the 445 a game Clemson had been allowing. Tigers defenders turned the tide early, halting Michael Holmes on third and fourth downs in the opening quarter to end the Hokies' 15-play drive on Clemson's 18.

Instead of trailing 14-0, Clemson began its comeback with Chandler Catanzaro's 27-yard field goal -- his 20th straight made kick since last season.

Meeks got the first of his two interceptions on Virginia Tech's next series, grabbing Thomas' sailing pass right before going out of bounds. The Hokies gave Clemson even more help on the drive, a short punt bouncing off a Virginia Tech player that Tony Steward recovered as the Tigers kept the ball. Boyd put them ahead for good moments later with a leaping, 1-yard TD.

Two series later, Meeks was at it again, this time, swiping Thomas' pass in the open field and running 74 yards for the score.

Clemson's attack finally got going after halftime. Ellington's touchdown run ended a 52-yard drive before Boyd hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 37-yard scoring pass the next time Clemson had the ball to go up 31-10.

Clemson ended with 295 yards on offense, its lowest output this season. Boyd was sacked five times after Clemson had allowed 10 its first six games. All-American receiver Sammy Watkins had eight catches for 84 yards.

Virginia Tech had entered this one stung by last year's failures against the Tigers. After dominating Clemson for more than decade, the Hokies were overrun in two games last year, including a 38-10 loss in the ACC title game.

So Virginia Tech came out fast on both sides of the ball.

The Hokies sacked Boyd twice to force a punt, then Thomas led a no-huddle attack that caught the Tigers' D napping. The 6-foot-6 quarterback converted a fourth-and-2, and then found Corey Fuller open in the middle of the field for a 29 yard touchdown.

Michael Cole got perhaps the easiest interception of his career -- a tipped pass fell into his hands as he lie on his back on the ground -- on Clemson's next sequence and Thomas had the Hokies on the move again until they were stopped on downs by the Tigers.

The Hokies got a 40-yard field goal by Cody Journall right before halftime to trail 17-10 at the break. Virginia Tech gave up just 137 yards to Clemson's potent offense in the first two quarters -- the Tigers came in second in the ACC at more than 525 yards of offense a game -- but struggled to get past the Hokies' D.

Clemson celebrated Military Appreciation Day and had walk-on receiver Daniel Rodriguez, U.S. Army veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, lead the team's charge down the hill into the stadium carrying the American flag to loud cheers. Rodriguez was also an honorary captain against Virginia Tech, the team he grew up following.  

Justin Jackson, North Carolina too much for Virginia

Justin Jackson, North Carolina too much for Virginia

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Justin Jackson scored 20 points to help No. 10 North Carolina beat No. 14 Virginia 65-41 on Saturday night, keeping the Tar Heels alone in first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Kennedy Meeks had all of his 13 points and seven rebounds after halftime for the Tar Heels (23-5, 11-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). They shot 47 percent and led by double figures nearly all night against the ice-cold Cavaliers.

UNC led 34-22 at halftime, never let Virginia closer than nine then ran off 10 straight points to take a 25-point lead and send the Cavaliers to their first three-game skid in a single season in six years.

Marial Shayok scored 13 points to lead Virginia (18-8, 8-6), who went 10 minutes without a basket at one point during the second half and missed its first 17 3-pointers for the game as the Tar Heels turned it into a rout.

Virginia shot 28 percent for the game and finished at 2 for 20 from 3-point range to go with a season-low point output, with every missed shot becoming magnified as the Tar Heels stayed in attack mode.

It was also was the second-lowest point total by an opponent in UNC's Smith Center, just a basket better than Clemson's 39 points here in 1995.

UNC finished with a 44-26 rebounding advantage, with much of that edge coming after halftime behind Meeks.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers offered up a worst-case scenario Saturday night. If Virginia's defense can't rattle an opponent, the Cavaliers' limited offensive punch gives them little margin for error.

UNC: This was one of several tough games for UNC coming down the regular-season stretch. Winning this rematch of last year's ACC Tournament championship game by a lopsided margin has to be a boost to an already confident team.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers return home Monday night to host Miami.

UNC: The Tar Heels have another big home game, hosting No. 8 Louisville on Wednesday night.

George Mason rallies late but falls to Rhode Island, 77-74

George Mason rallies late but falls to Rhode Island, 77-74

BY TYLER BYRUM

FAIRFAX, VA – Coming down the final seconds of the game, Rhode Island was able to hold off a resilient George Mason squad after blowing an 18-point lead in the second half to win, 77-74.

Stanford Robinson scored a team-high 21 points off the bench in a homecoming affair for the Paul VI Catholic High School graduate. From behind the arc, Robinson was a perfect 3-for-3 and brought down two huge offensive rebounds late in the contest.

In the final minute though, it was Robinson who gave the Patriots hope as he missed two free throws with less than two seconds left in the game.

Grabbing his fifth rebound of the contest to go along with 22 points, Jalen Jenkins threw up a full-court heave that was just a foot wide of the basket. 

From the onset, Rhode Island (17-9, 9-5) had the size advantage but was going against the NCAA’s best rebounding guard, Marquise Moore. Bringing down 31 rebounds, 14 being offensive, the Rams scored 13 pivotal second chance points. Moore, though, would manage to record his 17th double-double of the season (19 points, 10 rebounds). 

This was Moore's fourth straight double-double, which is helping his case as one of the favorites for the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. 

E.C. Matthews was another one of the Rams to rack up the points in EagleBank Arena. With 18 points on 15 shots, Matthews kept the Rams alive after the team allowed the Patriots to go on a 21-3 run.

The Rams consistently shot over the Patriots with five players recording a three-point basket. In the first half, the team shot 54 percent from behind the arc and had rolled to a 39-26 lead at the break.

George Mason (18-9, 8-6) was able to climb back after an insurmountable 18-point deficit minutes into the second half. Highlighting the scoring run, Otis Livingston II (nine points and seven rebounds) was able to hit a fadaway to bring Mason within four and the crowd to their feet.

Throughout the contest, the Patriots drew 23 fouls and made 31 of their 36 free throw attempts. This kept numerous Rams in foul trouble and forced Dan Hurley to go deep into his bench and use 11 players.

“That was one that we needed desperately,” Hurley said “We’ve done a lot of soul searching; we’ve also dealt with a lot this year.”

The victory gives Rhode Island a much-needed win after falling to Fordham 53-43 earlier in the week. Moving up to third place in the Atlantic 10, the Rams now use the momentum from this game in order to climb back in the NCAA tournament bubble.

Falling in this game, George Mason now is on the outside looking in for one of the conference’s coveted double-byes in the conference tournament.