Photo provided by Clemson athletics
Clemson and Georgia have not met on campus since 2014 and just once since. From 1973 to 1987, however, the teams alternated home games every year.
The final one of those contests came on this day 35 years ago. David Treadwell’s last-second field goal lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 21-20 victory.
Setting the Stage
Clemson was ranked No. 8 in the country and looking for a second straight win over Georgia as it arrived at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 19, 1987. The Tigers were coming off an ACC championship during a 1986 season in which they topped Georgia, 31-28. Clemson was off to a 2-0 start in 1987.
Ranked No. 18, Georgia was also off to a 2-0 start with impressive home wins over Virginia and Oregon State. The Bulldogs were also playing their first road game of the season but had not lost at Clemson since 1981.
Treadwell Does it Again
Clemson had dominated the game statistically and held the ball for virtually all of the second half. More than midway through the final quarter, however, it looked as though the Tigers would need a touchdown to win. With the Bulldogs backed up after a nice punt, that changed.
Clemson trailed 20-16 with less than six minutes to go, but that lead was cut in half when the Tigers’ Gene Beasley and James Lott brought down Georgia quarterback James Jackson for a safety. With 5:38, Clemson had time to be methodical.
With good field position following a free kick, the Tigers marched 53 yards in nine plays — all runs. That set the stage for Treadwell for a second year in a row.
Treadwell had made three kicks prior on the day. His late 46-yard field goal was the difference the year prior as Clemson topped Georgia in Athens.
With just two seconds remaining, history would be repeated — but from a much shorter distance. Treadwell’s kick split the uprights to ultimately give Clemson the win.
Clemson claimed victory despite Georgia being the only team to score a touchdown in the second half. Rodney Hampton’s 8-yard run gave Georgia the fourth-quarter lead. Prior to that, the Bulldogs’ only other touchdown came on a 76-yard punt return from Nathaniel Lewis.
Fullback Tracy Johnson followed with a 38-yard touchdown run for what would be Clemson’s only touchdown of the game. That tied the game at 13. Clemson’s Terry Allen led all rushers with 97 yards on 16 carries.
Recap and box score:
The victory for Clemson was part of a 6-0 start for the Tigers. Clemson would go on to win the ACC for the second straight year, finishing 10-2 and 12th in the final AP Poll. The Tigers closed the year with a 35-10 rout of Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.
Georgia would finish one spot behind Clemson in the final poll as it finished 9-3 with a Liberty Bowl win over Arkansas. The only 1-point game played by either of the two schools in 1987 was decided by a Treadwell field goal. It came on this day 35 years ago.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.