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Clemson Is 45-0 Loser in Opener

September 01, 1996|From Associated Press

North Carolina's defense handed Clemson its first season-opening shutout in 22 years, and Chris Keldorf began his Tar Heels career with two touchdown passes Saturday in a 45-0 victory over the troubled Tigers at Chapel Hill, N.C.

The margin of victory was the most by either team in the 45-game series and the most points scored by North Carolina, helping wipe away a host of bad memories from the last two decades against the Tigers.

Brian Simmons was the defensive hero for the Tar Heels, who beat Atlantic Coast Conference nemesis Clemson for only the third time in 16 games. The junior linebacker recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass, setting up 10 North Carolina points and a 17-0 lead.

North Carolina then poured it on.

Keldorf, a junior college transfer from Palomar and former St. Bernard High standout, threw a 14-yard scoring pass to L.C. Stevens in the corner of the end zone a minute and a half after Simmons' third-quarter interception, then found Stevens again for a 45-yard score 1 minute 57 seconds later.

Leon Johnson, who rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time in four years against Clemson, also scored twice, his three-yard run near the end of the third quarter capping a 21-point scoring binge for the Tar Heels in a span of 3:54.

Keldorf left midway through the fourth quarter, having completed 15 of 22 passes for 182 yards.

The Tigers, who lost, 41-0, to Syracuse in last season's Gator Bowl, were shut out in consecutive games for only the second time in 60 years. North Carolina and Maryland turned the trick in 1964. Clemson hadn't been shut out in an opener since a 24-0 loss to Texas A&M in 1974.

Clemson, which led the ACC in rushing last season, was limited to six first downs and 91 total yards--its lowest ever against the Tar Heels.

Clemson, a team that faced a preseason of off-the-field turbulence, had a six-game road winning streak end. The Tigers were playing their first game since losing standout wide receiver-return man Antwuan Wyatt and tailback Anthony Downs, who faced marijuana possession charges. Defensive end Trevor Pryce, the team's top pass rusher, was suspended Friday for two games for an unspecified NCAA rules violation.

With the game scoreless near the end of the first quarter, Johnson burst through the middle and raced 67 yards to the Clemson one. That run was the longest of Johnson's career and the longest against the Tigers since North Carolina's Curtis Johnson raced 76 yards in 1992.

Johnson scored on the next play four seconds before the end of the quarter.

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