Klubnik accounts for 4 TDs in Clemson’s 48-14 victory over Florida Atlantic
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Cade Klubnik threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth as Clemson played its most complete game of the season in a 48-14 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
Klubnik passed for 169 yards including touchdowns of 30 and 2 yards to freshman receiver Tyler Brown.
The defense for the Tigers (2-1) was just as strong, cornerback Nate Wiggins with a pick-6 TD return of 46 yards on the Owls’ opening series.
Clemson never let up after that and held the Owls scoreless until Michael Johnson Jr.’s 2-yard TD run with 12:07 left in the game.
Most welcome for Clemson was Klubnik’s steady, mistake-free performance. He had two turnovers in each of the first two games, and his fumble in an opening week, 28-7 loss at Duke, was among several miscues in the defeat.
The showing against Florida Atlantic (1-2) came at the right moment with Clemson seeking momentum to carry into its showdown here next week with No. 3 Florida State.
The Owls, in their first season in the American Athletic Conference, showed some fire before the game, gathering at midfield on Death Valley’s paw logo to the boos of the crowd.
The swagger ended at kickoff. Four plays in, Clemson’s Wiggins broke in front of quarterback Casey Thompson’s pass downfield and zig-zagged his way to the end zone.
Klubnik went 5-of-5 on the Tigers’ first possession, the last a commanding throw to Brown for a 30-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
Thompson’s second interception of the opening period led to Klubnik’s second scoring pass, 7 yards to tight end Jake Briningstool.
Klubnik, who ran for 35 yards, bulled into the end zone for a final first-half touchdown from a yard out and a 34-0 lead.
Thompson, the Nebraska transfer who’s started all three games for the Owls, took a hard, high hit in the second quarter and spent several minutes on the turf surrounded by trainers. He eventually got to his feet and walked, albeit unsteadily and with plenty of help, to the sidelines. Thompson, who came out in street clothes for the second half, did not return to play.
LaJohntay Wester had game highs of 12 catches and 108 yards receiving for Florida Atlantic.
Florida Atlantic: The Owls were out of this one quickly. They ran for just 83 yards, made just two of their first 14 third downs and had four turnovers. At least Florida Atlantic took away a $1.2 million guarantee for its first trip to Clemson since 2006.
Clemson: The Tigers opportunity, perhaps its last one, to get back in the ACC and national title discussion comes next week against the Seminoles. As crisp as Clemson looked against Florida Atlantic, it will have to up its game even more against dynamic Florida State.
Florida Atlantic continues its Power Five excursion, playing at Illinois of the Big Ten Conference on Saturday.
Clemson has an ACC showdown at home against No. 3 Florida State on Saturday.