Cade Klubnik threw for four touchdowns and No. 25 Clemson survived a nervous first half to defeat FCS visitors Charleston Southern 66-17 on Saturday.
Five days after a 28-7 upset loss at Duke, Clemson (1-1) trailed 14-7 late in the first quarter due to mistakes on offense. The Tigers outscored the Buccaneers 42-0 after halftime.
Beaux Collins caught seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown and Antonio Williams had five for 64 yards and two scores. Will Shipley ran for 73 yards and Phil Mafah added 59 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Klubnik finished 28-for-37 passing for 315 yards with a fumble and an interception.
Tony Bartalo went 6-for-14 for 61 yards and an interception for Charleston Southern (1-1).
Klubnik capped the opening drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Williams. But on the Tigers’ second drive, they tried to convert on fourth-and-1.
The snap glided off Klubnik’s hand and bounced off his running back before Trayson Fowler recovered the ball and returned it to the Clemson 1. JD Moore ran in for a touchdown on the next play.
On Clemson’s next possession, Klubnik chucked up an ill-advised pass and Leon Thomas returned the interception 67 yards for Charleston Southern’s 14-7 lead.
The Buccaneers had zero yards of offense and 14 points after four possessions, and Clemson gained 14 first downs before Charleston Southern had its first.
The Tigers tied it with 14 seconds left in the quarter on Mafah’s 1-yard TD run. A strong punt return set them up with a short field on their next drive, and Williams caught a screen pass and slipped into the end zone from 5 yards out to put Clemson back in front.
Sam Babbush converted a 45-yard field goal for the Buccaneers with 7:01 left in the half. Clemson ended a 13-play, 59-yard drive with Robert Gunn III’s 23-yard field goal just before halftime for a 24-17 lead.
Mafah scored from 5 yards out on Clemson’s first drive of the second half. Then, Bartalo threw a would-be completion to Fred Highsmith, but Jeadyn Lukus landed a jarring hit on Highsmith and Wade Woodaz snatched the ball, taking it 35 yards for a pick-6.
Collins scored on a 69-yard catch and run, even after he was nearly caught from behind while celebrating early. Josh Sapp added a 25-yard touchdown catch in the final minute of the third.
Jay Haynes scored two garbage-time touchdowns in the fourth quarter, an 8-yard run and a 6-yard pass from backup Paul Tyson.