How Clemson football finally got a big defensive play to beat Wake Forest in double-OT thriller

Clemson football quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and tight end Davis Allen connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass in the second overtime Saturday and the Tigers held on to beat Wake Forest, 51-45, in a wild Atlantic Coast Conference game at Truist Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

No. 5 Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) missed a mandatory two-point conversion to give No. 16 Wake Forest (3-1, 0-1) a chance. Clemson defensive back Nate Wiggins, who had a difficult game, knocked down a fourth-down pass by Wake Forest quarterback to seal the victory.

In the first overtime while trailing by seven, Uiagalelei threw a 21-yard touchdown to Beaux Collins and B.T. Potter added the extra point as Clemson pushed the game into a second overtime. Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman's sixth touchdown pass, a school single-game record, had opened the first OT as he hit a wide-open receiver A.T. Perry.

Wake Forest was trying to get into position to kick a game-winning field goal but dropped out of range when Hartman was sacked by Tyler Davis with 58 seconds remaining in regulation. Davis was playing in his first game since being injured in the season opener. Hartman then completed a third-and-17, but Trenton Simpson made the stop short of the first-down marker and the Demon Deacons had to punt.

Potter made a 52-yard field goal, matching a career-high, to tie the score 38-38 with 4:01 remaining.

Wake Forest has lost 14 straight to Clemson and 63 straight to teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. The Demon Deacons won the Atlantic Division last season, going 7-1 with the only loss coming to the Tigers. It was the first time both teams had been ranked in the matchup since 1950.

Clemson plays at home Saturday against N.C. State. Kickoff time and TV is yet to be announced.

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Here are some takeaways:

Clemson defensive backs were a disaster

Clemson's secondary was already missing three of its best players. Andrew Mukuba, Sheridan Jones and Malcolm Greene were out with injury. Without them, the Tigers were torched. They couldn't cover Wake Forest receivers without committing pass interference penalties and sometimes even when they did. Wake Forest had three touchdowns that were directly related to pass interference flags for a 28-20 lead. Freshmen Toriano Pride Jr. and Jaedyn Lukus were not ready for this major step up in competition. Veteran cornerbacks Nate Wiggins and Fred Davis, who inherited a shared job after the Tigers lost last year's starters to the NFL, are nowhere near that level.

Will Shipley shouldn't share important carries

Clemson coaches insist on using all three running backs, especially in the first half of games. But it was time to ride that thoroughbred named Will Shipley and that's how it should be from here on out. Shipley had a season-high in carries and scored a touchdown for the seventh straight game, dating back to last season's stretch run and bowl win. He's a different type of dude, especially in the red zone. No offense to Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah, but Shipley is clearly one of the best talents in the country. You don't want to lose those other guys, but you don't want to lose games, either. Shipley didn't play on first-half series even after the Tigers got into the red zone and actually down to the 2 before they ultimately had to settle for a field goal.

Tight ends came up big for Clemson

Clemson tight ends Jake Briningstool and Davis Allen played crucial roles. They each had touchdown catches. Briningstool caught his for a 7-0 lead and he had four catches for 56 yards in the first half. Allen made a terrific play near the end of the first half, leaping over a defender for a 12-yard gain that set up a field goal to give the Tigers a 20-14 lead at the break. Allen then scored a touchdown that, with a two-point conversion pass to Beaux Collins, made it 28-28 in the third quarter. Both of those guys can help the offensive line block, but they're also like wide receivers and often set up like that in pre-snap formations.

Todd Shanesy covers Clemson for the USA TODAY Network.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Clemson football beats Wake Forest on DJ Uiagalelei in double OT