CLEMSON, S.C. • DeAndre Hopkins caught three touchdown passes, Andre Ellington rushed for two scores and Spencer Benton kicked a 61-yard field goal to set an Atlantic Coast Conference record in No. 12 Clemson's 52-27 victory over Ball State on Saturday.
Ellington's two short TD runs helped the Tigers (2-0) get off to a fast start, and Tajh Boyd found Hopkins for touchdown passes of 13, 34 and 15 yards in the second period to help increase the lead to 35-10. Benton finished the Tigers' 45-point half with his record-setting kick as time ran out.
Ball State (1-1) had hoped to use its fast-paced attack to keep up. But Keith Wenning threw two interceptions, which both led to Clemson scores.
The Tigers had 526 yards of offense, surpassing 500 for a second straight week. And they racked up all those yards without record-setting receiver Sammy Watkins, who is set to return after missing the first two games because of a drug arrest.
About everything went the Tigers' way in the first half, including the long-range try by Benton, Clemson's punter and kickoff specialist who missed a 55-yard attempt at the Georgia Dome against Auburn last week. He came on with a few seconds left before halftime and sneaked this kick between the goal posts.
Benton's kick surpassed the ACC mark of 60 set by Gary Cismesia of Florida State in a 2007 game against Florida. Benton also moved past a pair of former NFL players, Obed Ariri and Chris Gardocki, who both kicked 57-yard field goals while at Clemson for the previous school mark.
Clemson and Ball State have quick-snap, fast-paced offensive systems, so this one figured to be a shootout. Boyd, Ellington and Hopkins instead took all the drama out the game early.
Ellington, who had a career-best 228 yards rushing in the season-opening victory over Auburn, scored on Clemson's first two possessions to put the Tigers up 13-0 less than nine minutes into the game.
Boyd and Hopkins took over after that, combining for touchdowns on three straight series in the second quarter.
The Tigers pulled most of their offensive stars following the fast start, but it didn't slow down Clemson's attack. Third-string tailback Roderick McDowell had a 27-yard touchdown run after a Ball State interception.