CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden told backup
running back Kyle Browning to be ready against Wake Forest.
"You never know," Bowden told Browning the day before the
game, "you just may be the star of the show."
Browning made the coach's prediction come true, catching an
11-yard touchdown pass in the second overtime that gave (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) Clemson a 37-30 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Bowden used the winning play several times last season with
Duane Coleman, the team's top rusher from 2003 recovering from a
Browning has a similar build and is nearly as elusive as Coleman
-- and proved to be just as much of a playmaker for the Tigers in
their opener against an Atlantic Coast Conference rival.
On second down, Browning slipped through the line as Whitehurst
was chased backwards by design. Whitehurst hit Browning on the
hands and the junior took it in for the winning score.
"Once I caught the ball and turned around, I knew I had to get
to the end zone," Browning said. "It was just a good feeling
because coach Bowden during the time out told me to go win it for
A win was in serious doubt for the Tigers much of the game.
They led 19-3 early in the second quarter and looked intent on
beating the Demon Deacons as thoroughly as the Tigers got beat in a
45-17 defeat at Wake Forest a season ago. But the Deacons (0-1)
rallied for 24 straight points and led 27-19 after Chris Barclay's
50-yard touchdown run with 12:20 to go in the game.
The Tigers rediscovered their offense when it counted.
Whitehurst, starting at his 22 with 6:35 left, completed passes
of 16 and 19 yards to Chansi Stuckey, then hit Airese Currie with
an 8-yard completion to get inside Wake's 10. A pass interference
call on fourth-and-goal kept the drive alive and Yusef Kelly leaped
over the pile from a yard out with for Clemson's first points in
nearly 40 minutes.
Kelvin Grant pulled down the tying conversion on a perfectly
lofted ball into the left corner of the end zone to send things
"I was disappointed they were able to drive down the field at
the end," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "We'll get a little
tougher and saltier from this experience."
The teams traded field goals in the first extra session. Then
Whitehurst found Browning on a slip screen pass to give Clemson the
"He's an itty-bitty guy, hard to see out there," Bowden said.
Browning didn't know if Whitehurst could see him in the left
side. "Then I saw the ball hang up there a long time," Browning
said. "I knew I had to catch it."
Wake Forest could not respond.
Jason Anderson juggled a pass out of bounds. Barclay, who ran
for 179 yards, was stopped at the line of scrimmage. And Cory
Randolph's final two throws went incomplete.
"It shows what can happen if we don't close the game out,"
said Barclay, who's gained 342 yards against Clemson the past two
years. "We have to make plays all game long and especially in the
stretch. That's when they really count."
Many in the crowd of 79,500 rushed the center of the field as
Memorial Stadium's new remote-control collapsible goalposts worked
to perfection, coming down in seconds.
The excitement shows how seriously Clemson takes Wake Forest
these days. Only once in 55 contests since 1948 had Wake won
back-to-back games in the series. But after Barclay slipped through
a pile at the line of scrimmage on the way to his touchdown, it
looked like Wake was on its way.
At least until Whitehurst got the Tigers moving.
Whitehurst finished 20-for-41 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and
two interceptions. Currie caught nine passes for 152 yards while
Stuckey, a converted quarterback, had eight receptions for 112
The Tigers came out like a team looking for revenge from last
year's debacle, which nearly cost Clemson coach Tommy Bowden his
job. But after a four-game winning streak to end the season -- and a
longterm contract for Bowden -- the Tigers wanted to pay back the
last team to beat them.
They opened with Currie's 31-yard TD catch and Justin Miller's
69-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter.
Clemson's plans took a hit when Wake Forest rallied and kept the
Tigers off the scoreboard through an uncomfortably long stretch for
the Death Valley fans.
Wake freshman Ben Mauk launched a high, floater over the middle
that Anderson caught for an 85-yard touchdown. The Demon Deacons
did things their preferred way the next time they got the ball,
rushing seven times for 37 yards and ending with Cornelius Birgs
2-yard dash through the middle for a touchdown to close things to