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Clemson erupts in fourth quarter, Wake Forest collapses

Oct 7, 2006 - 7:27 PM WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Clemson appeared headed to another loss at Groves Stadium. Then Gaines Adams pumped some life into the Tigers and true freshman C.J. Spiller delivered a crushing blow.

Adams returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown to ignite a 24-point fourth-quarter rally and Spiller gave 15th-ranked Clemson the lead for good with a 72-yard touchdown run in a 27-17 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Wake Forest.

It was sweet revenge for Clemson (5-1, 3-1 ACC Atlantic), which lost in its two previous trips here, including a 31-27 defeat last season.

"We talked about needing to make some plays and Adams got it started for us," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "Our defense got some stops and turnovers and C.J. broke off the big run for us."

The Demon Deacons (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic) appeared to be on the verge of improving to 6-0 for the first time since 1944. They held a 17-3 lead and were setting up for a 42-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter.

But Jon Temple mishandled the snap and Gaines, a preseason First Team All-ACC defensive end, showed his quickness and strength. Gaines raced in from the left side, wrested the ball away from Temple and raced 66 yards for a score just 13 seconds into the quarter.

That started the comeback for the Tigers and the collapse for Wake Forest, which committed two more turnovers in the quarter.

"When we botched the field goal, we lost momentum and didn't play good football," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "That was a major momentum swing and offensively we didn't do much."

On the ensuing possession, defensive end Brandon Cannon sacked and forced a fumble by redshirt freshman Riley Skinner and defensive tackle Donnell Clark recovered for the Tigers at the Wake Forest 43.

Three plays later, James Davis broke off a 13-yard run to the 20. Then after Davis was stuffed for no gain, Will Proctor fired a 20-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Kelly to tie the game at 17-17 with 11:09 left.

Wake Forest went three-and-out on its next possession, but pinned the Tigers back at their own 4 after a 48-yard punt by Sam Swank.

Proctor scrambled for 10 yards on the first play and converted a 3rd-and-6 with a 10-yard pass to tight end Thomas Hunter. Then Spiller broke a tackle attempt by safety Chip Vaughn before sprinting down the right sideline for his 72-yard touchdown run with 7:22 left.

Cornerback C.J. Gaddis intercepted a pass by Skinner and returned it 21 yards to the Wake Forest 47 with 5:45 remaining. That led to a 23-yard field goal by Jad Dean with 1:12 left, capping the 24-point quarter.

"This game is one of emotion, energy and effort and we had all of that in the fourth quarter," Bowden said. "The shift of intensity was with us."

Spiller finished with 104 yards on nine carries and Davis, the ACC's leading rusher, produced 95 yards on 26 carries.

The comeback overshadowed a shaky performance by Proctor, who threw for 214 yards but was also intercepted three times and fumbled once.

Skinner was efficient most of the day, completing 18-of-23 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Nate Morton on a trick play. But Skinner's two turnovers in the fourth quarter were major factors in Clemson's come-from-behind win.

The Tigers played without star wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, who broke his right foot in practice Tuesday and will be out three to five weeks. They are already without starting linebackers Tramaine Billie (broken foot) and Anthony Waters (torn ACL).

"We've had to overcome so much, of course the latest being Chansi's injury," Bowden said. "But we stayed with it today and I'm proud of them. We were outplayed in the first half but we bounced back."

The game started out well for Wake Forest when Kenneth Moore returned the opening kickoff 93 yards to the Clemson 7. Two plays later, De'Angelo Bryant fumbled after being hit by Gaddis and cornerback Duane Coleman recovered at the 1.

Proctor hit Kelly with a 41-yard pass and connected with Davis on a 31-yard play to set up a 20-yard field goal by Dean with 7:47 left in the first quarter.

But Wake Forest scored the next 17 points. Skinner hit Willie Idlette with a six-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Grobe resorted to trickery for the second touchdown. Skinner lined up in a shotgun and handed the ball off to Morton, who ran to his his right while Skinner ran down the left sideline. Morton then threw the ball across the field and Skinner made a leaping catch in the end zone, giving the Demon Deacons a 14-3 lead with 12:51 left in the second quarter.

Swank's 22-yard field goal with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter increased the advantage to 17-3.

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