When walk-on receiver Hunter Renfrow cradled the national championship-winning touchdown pass from superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson, it triggered a celebration 35 years in the making.
It had been that long since Homer Jordan threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Perry Tuttle, giving Clemson its first national championship in the Orange Bowl over Nebraska.
From the students who came to back to Clemson and watched the game on a big screen in the middle of downtown and Tiger fans who made the pilgrimage to Tampa to fans who gathered in Greenville bars for the communal experience to those who agonized over every play in the solace of their own living rooms, the reaction was the same.
“When the clock struck zero and Clemson was officially National Champs, we cried like babies. Not even ashamed to admit it,” tweeted @SonsOfClemson.
“Some of you wouldn’t understand how deep this is, what this means to our family, the Clemson family,” tweeted former Tiger Stephone Anthony, who plays linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.
— Stephone Anthony (@stephoneanthony) January 10, 2017
It’s generations deep. Will Ragland was three years old the last time the Tigers won the championship. “I remember my parents screaming for joy and dancing around the room when we won,” Ragland wrote on Facebook. “Tonight that happened again, in the same room, with the same people, and with that same feeling of pure joy.
“Clemson football has always been part of our lives. I spent most of my childhood going to all the home games at Death Valley. Every year I’d hoped we could be #1. So many triumphs, disappointments and enemies we loathed. It always felt like more than a game. It was family, tradition, history, pride and witnessing an underdog clawing its way to the top of the mountain year after year,” he wrote. Ragland credits his love of Clemson to his grandfather, Clifford T. Smith, a 1927 graduate and charter member of IPTAY.
“We won, Granddad. We won!” he wrote.
Greenville City Councilman David Sudduth, who attended the game, posted a photo with his wife, Kathy, after the game.
“It just doesn’t get any better. And that ain’t snow falling down,” Sudduth said, referencing confetti falling in the background. “I’d be fine if this Championship thing becomes a habit. So proud of Dabo, the players and Tiger Nation.”
After the win Monday night, the Empire State building was lit up in orange and purple. On Tuesday, a Clemson Tiger paw flew over the Statehouse dome.
— TigerNet.com (@ClemsonTigerNet) January 10, 2017
The Black Sheep Clem summed it up with a tweet at 4:57 a.m. Tuesday morning. “WAKING UP AND REALIZING IT WASN’T A DREAM.” And, yes, in this case all-caps were definitely warranted.
“Good morning Clemson Nation: We beat Bama.”
Slideshow: Clemson fans react
Photos by Clemson/Ken Scar, via Flickr