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Clemson holds off Virginia Tech to repeat as ACC champions

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Once again, Deshaun Watson.

Once again, the ACC title.

Once again, Clemson.

Watson led the Tigers to their second straight ACC title Saturday night, and their second straight trip to the college football playoffs. The Tigers, 12-1, had to survive a furious comeback by Virginia Tech to win, 42-35.

Watson threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 85 yards and two more scores to lead Clemson. At one point in the third quarter, the Tigers led 35-14, but they had to make a stop at the end with Virginia Tech driving for the tying score. Cordrea Tankersley intercepted Jarred Evans’ pass on fourth-and-six at the Clemson 23.

Evans threw for 264 yards but threw two interceptions.

“Hats off to Virginia Tech,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “We had a three touchdown lead, then a two touchdown lead. They’re a champion, too. There were two champions out there. We just wanted to be the ones with the trophy at the end.

“I think we’ve got a heck of a football team. We’re going to be a tough out for someone. We fit somewhere. I think we’re a great football team. We’re 25-1 the last two years. We just want an opportunity to compete and see if we can get it done. You’ve got to win your conference first.”

Clemson finds out its playoff seedings today.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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