No. 5 Clemson escapes No. 21 Wake Forest in double overtime

The Tigers have beaten the Demon Deacons 14 straight times

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei scrambles past Wake Forest defensive lineman Tyler Williams during the Tigers' 51-45 double-overtime win Saturday in Winston-Salem. (Chuck Burton / AP Photo)

WINSTON-SALEM — It took a pair of overtimes, but fifth-ranked Clemson managed to edge past the No. 21 Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon.

Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei connected with tight end Dennis Allen on a 21-yard touchdown pass in double overtime to put his team up by six points after a failed two-point conversion. Wake Forest had a final chance, but quarterback Sam Hartman’s game-tying pass attempt to the end zone on fourth down bounced to the ground, giving Clemson a 51-45 win at Truist Field.

“I thought we battled and competed,” said Wake coach Dave Clawson, who was trying to get the Deacons their first win over a top-five opponent in 76 years. “Sometimes two good teams go at it and one team maybe makes one more play than the other team. And I think that’s what today came down to.”

Although Wake’s fifth-year quarterback was superb in the game — tossing a program-record six touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing for 337 yards — the Deacons (3-1) fell just short in a battle of ACC Atlantic Division powers. 

Meanwhile, Uiagalelei had arguably his best game at Clemson (4-0), completing 26 of his 41 passes for 371 yards and five touchdowns.

His two early touchdown passes stakes the Tigers to a 14-0 lead.

After running back Will Shipley — a North Carolina native from Mathews — exploded up the middle for a 53-yard run on Clemson’s first offensive play, Uiagalelei connected with tight end Jake Briningstool on a 12-yard touchdown pass at 8:09 of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

On the Tigers’ next possession, Briningstool reeled in a 30-yard catch for a third-down conversion and then Uigalelei threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Brannon Spector to give Clemson a two-score lead.

But Wake quickly responded. Hartman led a three-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jahmal Banks, who finished the game with a team-high six catches, 141 yards and two scores. 

Down 10 points in the second quarter, Hartman got the Deacons within three points with a five-yard touchdown pass to Banks to make the score 17-14. Clemson added a field goal to lead 20-14 on the scoreboard at halftime, but it could have been worse for the Deacons — the Tigers outgained Wake 309-123, holding the Deacons to just four rushing yards, and held the ball for 21:27 in the opening half.

After Clemson’s first drive of the second half stalled, Wake scored twice to take an eight-point lead.

On the Deacons’ first possession of the half, Hartman orchestrated a four-play, 68-yard drive that included a 25-yard run and concluded with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Greene.

That gave Wake its first lead, and then Hartman and Deacons built on it.

Near the midway point of the third quarter, Hartman threw his fourth touchdown of the game by connecting with receiver Blake Whiteheart for a 19-yard score and a 28-20 lead. 

The Tigers quickly responded to Wake’s 14-point run. First, Clemson tight end Davis Allen hauled in a five-yard touchdown catch and Uiagalelei then found wide receiver Beaux Collins for a two-point conversion to tie the game up. 

The Deacons responded themselves when Hartman connected with Greene again for a 25-yard touchdown to put Wake up 35-28.

Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata — who had a team-high 84 receiving yards — then reeled in a 46-yard catch on the following possession and Shipley capped the drive with a 1-yard run that was confirmed by replay to tie the game at 35 with 11:16 left in regulation. Shipley finished the game with 104 rushing yards.

Wake kicker Matthew Dennis gave the Deacons a 38-35 lead with a 29-yard field goal at 8:07, but Clemson tied the game once again when B.T. Potter made a 52-yard field goal with 4:01 to play. 

Wake was unable to cash in on its final drive of the fourth quarter, and then Hartman tossed sixth touchdown of the game with an 8-yard pass to A.T. Perry to give the Deacons a 45-38 in the first overtime. 

Clemson’s Beaux Collins caught a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the score again before Allen’s game-winning catch.

Wake travels to Florida State next week, while Clemson will host No. 12 NC State (3-0) in another top-25 conference showdown.