Today’s Clemson Flashback takes everyone back to a night game in Death Valley in November of 2016. The Tigers held their regular season finale at home against their in state rival, South Carolina, and they put on a show.
Clemson won the game in a rout, 56–7, the Tigers third straight win against the Gamecocks and their largest margin of victory in the series since beating UofSC 51–0 in 1900.
Clemson’s first drive of the game ended with a blocked 39-yard field goal attempt. On the very next play from scrimmage Gamecock quarterback Jake Bentley was picked off and three plays later Clemson scored on a 34 yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to wide receiver Mike Williams.
The two then connected again for a 19 yard touchdown on the next drive. The drive after that Watson threw an 11 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett, giving the Tigers a 21–0 lead in the first quarter.
Clemson then added two more touchdowns in the final 3:06 of the first half. One on an eight yard run by Wayne Gallman and another on another Watson to Williams pass from 16 yards out. The rout was on, and at halftime Clemson led 35-0.
The Tigers began the second half just like they ended the first, scoring on their first possession with a pass from Watson to C. J. Fuller. South Carolina was able to break up the shutout on their next drive on a 33 yard pass from wide receiver Deebo Samuel to Bryan Edwards.
Clemson quickly responded with another touchdown of their own. It came on Deshaun Watson’s fifth touchdown pass of the game (a career high), this time to Artavis Scott. Tigers backup quarterback Kelly Bryant added a rushing touchdown before the end of the game that made the final score to 56–7.
This game had more meaning for this Tiger. Why, you ask. Because my hero and close friend, BJ Wilkes, who was on hospice due to an incurable heart issue, had come up with a bucket list.
One of the items on that list was to see his favorite team play live. Now this is where the story takes a huge swing. You see, BJ was as huge a Gamecock as I was a Tiger.
The search began around July, as I worked overtime in an attempt to find tickets to a game in late November that we all knew would be almost impossible to get. Thankfully, the Clemson family would be involved.
We had a family that not only had season tickets but offered up their six box seats knowing that there would be BJ, his brother (Raylen), his mother (Haley), one of his nurses (Lyz), his daddy (Brian), and myself.
It gets even better. Not only did we need tickets, but with BJ’s condition it was not going to be possible to drive up and back in one night, so we needed to find somewhere to stay as well. Again, when another Tiger fan found out about what we were attempting to do, she contacted me and offered her house close to Tigertown for the weekend.
The convoy rolled out on that Friday. We all stayed in a total stranger‘s (at that time) house, and left out early on Saturday afternoon to head up to Death Valley for the game. BJ was able to stay through the first half but as the second half began, we left to head back to the house we were staying in. We all got up the next morning and headed back home.
This was one of his many bucket list items that BJ and I were able to check off together, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity. As big of a Gamecock fan as he was and I a Tiger, we never let that interfere with that love he and I had for each other.
He was Maverick and he nicknamed me Crash Goose. BJ went to be with the LORD this past fall, so I am very thankful that I was able to attend that game. Not only because we won, but even more so because it was awesome to see the look on his face in the beginning of the game when his Gamecocks hit the field, and he was able to see them do it live.