Clemson Captures ACC Title

Dick Cox

December 06, 2022 at 5:10 pm.

The Clemson Tigers were able to shake off a slow start and take down the North Carolina Tar Heels 39-10 in the ACC Conference Championship game in Charlotte, NC. The Tigers looked unfocused, and disinterested on their first two possessions as the Tar Heels jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.

The story of the game was supposed to be about North Carolina freshman quarterback Drake Mayes, who earlier in the week was named the ACC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, but another freshman quarterback stole the show.

With Clemson down 7-0, Clemson Dabo Swinney benched two-year starter DJ Uiagalelei after the Tigers failed to pick up a first down on their first two possessions. Swinney turned to Cade Klubnik, a 5-star recruit from Austin, Texas. He responded by leading the Tigers to four straight scores and a 24-10 lead at halftime. Klubnik completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score to lead No. 10 Clemson to the ACC championship. He was also named the MVP of the Championship game.

”They told me to prepare every week like you are going to play and that has been my mindset,” Klubnik said. ”I have learned so much and this week I was able to dial it in.”

Swinney said he informed Klubnik on Sunday that he planned to put him in the game in the third series regardless of what happened. ”You got a glimpse of our future at Clemson,” Swinney said about Klubnik. ”I’m excited to see him continue to build on it and gain momentum going into next year.” Swinney said Klubnik will start in the upcoming Orange Bowl.

Tigers defensive back Nate Wiggins broke up two passes in the end zone, blocked a field goal and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown to lead the Clemson defense.

Maye was limited to 268 yards passing and turned the ball over three times for North Carolina (9-4, No. 23 CFP) Maye said, ”We were moving the ball all night and we’d get to the red zone and we’d have a stall and a stop in the road. It starts with me. I’ve got to make better decisions.”

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is expected to enter the transfer portal after two years as the Tiger’s starter. The junior signal caller will have up to three years of eligibility remaining at his next stop. It is not yet known when Uiagalelei plans to enter the portal.

“Moving forward, Cade will be the starter going in, and DJ will be the backup,” Swinney said after the game. “We’ll keep moving forward, and I’m sure there will be plenty of conversations — he graduates in a week or so, so he’s got a bright future. Obviously, it didn’t end tonight the way he would like, but he’s got a bright, bright future as a football player.”

Lindy’s Sports Post Game Coaches Corner: ACC Football Championship