#22 Clemson 38 Kentucky 35 Gator Bowl: Game Notes

GAME NOTES

  • Clemson made its 50th bowl appearance in school history. Clemson became the 12th program in the nation to appear in 50 bowl games all-time.
  • Clemson made its 10th Gator Bowl appearance all-time, its most of any bowl game.
  • Clemson became the first program in history to appear in 10 Gator Bowls.
  • The game included five fourth-quarter lead changes, all of which came in the final 6:45 of game time. 
  • Clemson’s 28 points in the fourth quarter were Clemson’s most in a fourth quarter in its bowl history. It also tied for the most in a fourth quarter of any game in Clemson history, tying four such games.
  • Clemson matched a season high with four takeaways, all of which came in the fourth quarter. It was Clemson’s third four-takeaway game of the season and Clemson’s first four-takeaway bowl game since the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl.
  • Clemson won the turnover margin, 4-1. Clemson won the turnover margin for a fifth consecutive game for the first time since a nine-game streak in 2019. Clemson finished the season 7-0 this year when it won the turnover margin and 2-4 when it did not.
  • Clemson has now recorded multiple takeaways in five consecutive games for the first time since the final three games of 2018 and the first two games of 2019. Clemson finished the season with 28 takeaways, its most since 2019 (30 in 15 games).
  • Running back Phil Mafah rushed 11 times for 71 yards with a career-high four rushing touchdowns, earning Most Valuable Player honors.
  • Mafah’s four rushing touchdowns broke the Clemson bowl record (three by Tracy Johnson vs. Penn State in the 1988 Citrus Bowl) and broke the Gator Bowl record (three set by many players).
  • Mafah became the first Clemson player to rush for four touchdowns in a game since C.J. Spiller against Georgia Tech in the 2009 ACC Championship Game.
  • With his 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th rushing touchdowns of the year, Mafah gave Clemson at least one player with double-digit rushing touchdowns in nine consecutive seasons.
  • Mafah’s first two touchdowns of the game came on one-yard plunges in the second and fourth quarters.
  • Mafah’s third touchdown was a 29-yard go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. He added the game-winning score on a three-yard run with 17 seconds remaining.
  • Mafah became the first Clemson player to score three touchdowns in any single quarter since DeAndre Hopkins against Duke in 2012. He is also the first Clemson player in Stats Perform’s data set back to 1996 to score three touchdowns in a fourth quarter specifically.
  • Mafah (965) and running back Will Shipley (827) became the fifth Clemson duo (including quarterbacks) since 1948 to each rush for 800 yards in a single season. They became only the third running back duo to accomplish the feat, joining C.J Spiller/James Davis in 2006 and Kenny Flowers/Stacey Driver in 1985.
  • Clemson has scored at least one rushing touchdown in a national-best 78 of its 82 games since the start of the 2018 season. Clemson has also rushed for multiple touchdowns in a national-best 65 games in that span.
  • Running back Will Shipley led Clemson with 132 all-purpose yards.
  • Shipley recorded a then-season-long 34-yard kickoff return on the game’s opening kickoff.
  • Shipley added a new season-long kickoff return with a 60-yard return in the fourth quarter.
  • With 94 kickoff return yards in the game, Shipley (904) entered the Top 10 in Clemson history in career kickoff return yards, passing Warren Ratchford (848 from 1974-78) for 10th. 
  • Shipley’s 94 kickoff return yards were the second-most of his career, trailing his 107 against Pitt in 2021.
  • Tight end Jake Briningstool led Clemson in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (91).
  • Briningstool’s nine receptions tied the Clemson single-game school record for receptions by a tight end, matching John McMakin (vs. Florida State in 1970) and Brandon Ford (vs. LSU in 2012).
  • Briningstool’s ninth reception of the game was his 50th of the season, tying the single-season school record for receptions by a tight end set by Dwayne Allen in 2011 (50).
  • With 91 yards in the Gator Bowl, Briningstool finished the year with a career-high 498 receiving yards, two yards shy of posting the first 500-yard season by a Clemson tight end since Jordan Leggett in 2016 (736).
  • Quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 30-of-41 passes for 264 yards. He led Clemson on a 12-play, 68-yard game-winning drive in 2:17 of elapsed game time for the victory. 
  • Klubnik was 8-for-8 for 71 yards on Clemson’s game-winning drive.
  • With his 13th completion of the game, Klubnik (351) passed Rodney Williams (333 from 1985-88) to enter the Top 10 in Clemson history in career completions.
  • On his 29th completion of the game, Klubnik (351) became the 13th player in school history to complete 350 career passes.
  • During the game, Klubnik (3,541) entered the Top 15 in Clemson history in career passing yards. He became the 15th player in Clemson history to reach 3,500 career passing yards.
  • Klubnik (290) finished the season with the fourth-most pass completions in a single season in Clemson history.
  • Klubnik (579) finished the season with the most plays of total offense (combined rushing attempts and passing attempts) by a Clemson player in a single season since Kelly Bryant in 2017 (590).
  • Tight end Olsen Patt-Henry recorded a career-long 25-yard catch in the third quarter.
  • With 80 plays against Kentucky, Clemson (998) was two plays shy of producing the 10th 1,000-play season in school history.
  • Including its 367 yards against Kentucky, Clemson (5,235) produced its 12th 5,000-yard season in the last 13 years. It represents Clemson’s 13th 5,000-yard season in Dabo Swinney’s 15 full seasons. 
  • Clemson’s 30 completions against Kentucky gave Clemson its 11th 300-completion season in school history (302).
  • Linebacker Barrett Carter was credited with five tackles, three pass breakups, an interception, a fumble recovery and a half-sack.
  • Carter and defensive end T.J. Parker split a second-quarter sack.
  • Parker finished his debut campaign with 5.5 sacks, third-most by a true freshman in Clemson history.
  • With 1.5 tackles for loss in the game, Parker (12.5) broke Myles Murphy’s true freshman school record of 12.0. The overall freshman school record remains 15.0 by redshirt freshman Michael Dean Perry in 1984.
  • Clemson recorded the game’s first takeaway early in the fourth quarter. In their final game of their careers, sixth-year defensive ends Xavier Thomas and Justin Mascoll combined for the takeaway, with Thomas forcing a fumble on a sack that was recovered by Mascoll.
  • The forced fumble was the sixth of Thomas’ career. The recovery was the second of Mascoll’s career and his first since 2020.
  • On Kentucky’s next possession, Carter recorded his first interception of the season, the third of his career.
  • Clemson recorded a takeaway on three straight possessions on Kentucky’s next drive when Carter recovered a fumble forced by safety Khalil Barnes. It was Clemson’s second time this season forcing a takeaway on three straight drives (vs. Georgia Tech in November).
  • With his third forced fumble of the season, Barnes joined Myles Murphy (three in 2020) as the only Clemson freshmen under Dabo Swinney to force three fumbles in a season. Barnes, Murphy and Ed McDaniel are the only Clemson freshmen (true or redshirt) with three forced fumbles in a season since 1988.
  • Cornerback Shelton Lewis sealed the victory with his second career interception with nine seconds remaining.
  • With four punts downed inside the 20, punter Aidan Swanson (28) tied Bradley Pinion’s school record for punts inside the 20 in a single season (28 in 2014). 
  • Placekicker Jonathan Weitz tied a career-high with a 3-for-3 performance on field goals.
  • Clemson opened the scoring on a 39-yard field goal by Weitz on the game’s opening possession.
  • Weitz added field goals of 28 yards and 52 yards in the fourth quarter.
  • Weitz’s three field goals tied the Clemson bowl record set by several players.
  • Weitz became the first Clemson player with three field goals in consecutive games since B.T. Potter against Wake Forest and NC State last season.
  • Weitz’s dramatic go-ahead 52-yard field goal was a career long and tied the Clemson bowl record set by Potter in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to end the 2019 season.
  • After starting the season 8-for-14, Weitz finished the season 6-for-6 in the final two games of his career, his longest career streak of consecutive made field goals.
  • Offensive lineman Will Putnam played his 60th career game to become the first offensive lineman in school history to play 60 career games.
  • With their 60th career game appearances, Putnam and safety Jalyn Phillips joined seven previous players in school history among those who played 60 career games at Clemson (P Will Spiers, WR/H Will Swinney, LB James Skalski, PK B.T. Potter, S Nolan Turner, DE Justin Mascoll and DE Xavier Thomas).
  • Putnam made his 49th career start to tie tackle Landon Walker and center Dalton Freeman for the second-most career starts by an offensive lineman in school history.
  • Putnam recorded his 49th consecutive start to tie center Dalton Freeman’s school record by a non-specialist (49 from 2009-12). 
  • On his 20th offensive snap of the game, Putnam became the second player on record in Clemson history to play 3,500 career snaps from scrimmage. He finished his career ranked second in career snaps from scrimmage in Clemson history behind only Mitch Hyatt (3,754 from 2015-18).
  • Defensive tackle Tyler Davis made his 52nd career start to extend his Clemson record for the most career starts by a defensive player.
  • Davis tied PK Chandler Catanzaro (52) for the fourth-most career starts in Clemson history.
  • Head Coach Dabo Swinney became the first person to lead a team in 20 career bowl games as an ACC head coach.
  • The game was a matchup of two of the seven longest-tenured head coaches in the FBS (Swinney, sixth, and Mark Stoops, seventh).
  • In the 1993 Peach Bowl against Kentucky (a game in which current Clemson offensive lineman Walker Parks’ father, David, was playing for Kentucky), Clemson won on a touchdown pass by Patrick Sapp with less than a minute remaining. Today, his son, Josh Sapp, scored Clemson’s final points on a two-point conversion against Kentucky in the final minute.
  • This season, Clemson faced multiple SEC opponents in a season for the 17th time in the last 18 years, dating to 2006. The lone exception came in 2020 when the SEC opted out of non-conference play amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Clemson elected permanent team captains for the 2023 season prior to the Gator Bowl. Clemson’s captains were defensive tackle Tyler Davis, wide receiver Hamp Greene, defensive end Justin Mascoll, center Will Putnam, running back Will Shipley and placekicker Jonathan Weitz.

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