Another helping of Alberta beef was being savoured Saturday by football fans south of the border.
This time, it was Ajou Ajou of Brooks/Edmonton serving up tasty feed for the highlight reel, when he took a receiver screen-pass for an electrifying 35-yard touchdown in the No. 1 Clemson Tigers 73-7 blast of the host Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in NCAA action.
Called a ‘freakish’ talent by head coach Dabo Swinney, the 6-foot-3, 215-lb. true freshman out of Edmonton’s Harry Ainlay Titans program and Florida’s Clearwater Academy International had his number dialed up a few times in the victory.
“I’m proud of him,” fellow Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers told reporters. “He’s super athletic, too athletic. He’s gonna show when it’s his time.”
Ajou showed plenty on just a couple of plays in the Week 7 ACC affair.
The TD catch-and-run in the fourth quarter saw backup quarterback Hunter Helms find him on a wide-receiver screen play.
Ajou then escaped a tackle and juked and jived his way through a gauntlet of Georgia Tech defenders en route to the end zone for the first major of his career.
“Ajou’s still baking a little bit, but I’ve turned the heat down,” Swinney told reporters. “He’s got a little more baking to do. But you saw what he can do.”
It was just Ajou’s second catch of the season — the first covered for six yards against The Citadel early in the schedule.
He nearly scored on a highlight catch on Clemson’s previous march Saturday, when Helms hit him with an 18-yard strike at corner of the Tech end zone where the goal-line meets the pylon.
The Clemson Insider described it like this: “Ajou leaped over the Yellow Jacket defender and made a spectacular catch that was ruled a touchdown on the field. But the play was overturned because the ball did not break the plane before his foot touched the pylon.”
Swinney was impressed nonetheless.
“He just has so much to learn, but he is going to be a special player,” Swinney told reporters. “(The TD play) was just a simple little screen, and he looked like a big ol’ daddy long-legs running down the field. It was a spectacular play, as was his (earlier) catch. It was just unfortunate they barely ruled him out.
“Pretty cool to see him come back and fight for a touchdown.”
Clemson set a school record with seven passing touchdowns on the day in improving to 5-0 on the season. The Tigers QB, Heisman Trophy frontrunner Trevor Lawrence, had a career day with 404 passing yards and five first-half TD tosses.
With the win, Swinney, 50, became the second winningest head coach in ACC history. He’s 135-31 since taking over the program in 2008.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, drops to 2-3.
SECOND & LONG
The big story of the week — Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19 — was turned upside down to become the big story of the day, with Saban showing up on the sideline for Saturday’s late SEC battle after testing negative three straight times ahead of the contest. Then, he promptly coached No. 2 Alabama (4-0) to a 41-24 victory over No. 3 Georgia (3-1) in the biggest game of the season so far. Saban’s much-maligned defence shut out Georgia in the second half and got an explosive 90-yard TD from receiver Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter to take the lead for good. Waddle had 161 receiving yards, while teammate DeVonta Smith had a game-high 167 … Now Florida head coach Dan Mullen has the virus, announcing the news Saturday amid the bug wreaking havoc with his squad … Florida (2-1) vs. LSU (1-2) was one of six Week 7 games that weren’t played because of COVID. Two other scratched games featuring ranked teams were No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0) at Baylor (1-1) and No. 8 Cincinnati (3-0) at Tulsa (1-1).
THIRD & GOAL
No. 4 Notre Dame (4-0) slogged its way to a 12-7 home ACC win over feisty Louisville (1-4) after holding its talented foe to just 233 total yards … No. 13 Miami (4-1) topped visiting Pittsburgh (3-3), which went without starting QB Kenny Pickett (ankle), in a 31-19 ACC game … Mack Brown’s No. 5 North Carolina (3-1) got upset 31-28 by Florida State (1-3) 31-28 in late Saturday ACC action … Another late ACC affair saw No. 23 Virginia Tech (3-1) top Boston College (3-2) 40-14 … Two ranked teams won Friday night to prove they’re among the top Group of Five programs in the nation: No. 14 BYU (5-0) topped host Houston 43-26 (1-1) to run its unbeaten record to five from the start of the season for the first time since 2008; and No. 17 SMU (5-0) is also perfect through five — on track like last year, when it started 8-0 — after edging tough Tulane (2-3) 37-34 in overtime.
FOURTH & INCHES
The SEC had its upsets, although No. 11 Texas A&M (3-1) did double up Mississippi State (1-3) 28-14 in Starkville. But Kentucky (2-2) won for only the third time in 26 meetings with No. 18 Tennessee (2-2) — on the road, too — in a 34-7 no-doubter after Rocky Top’s senior QB Jarrett Guarantano threw two early pick-sixes. And South Carolina (2-2) won its first game over No. 15 Auburn (2-2) since joining the SEC in 1992 with a 30-22 home decision … The catch of the day came in the SEC, as well. Treylon Burks’ one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone helped Arkansas (2-2) — yes, Arkansas! — dismiss Ole Miss (1-3) 33-21 in Fayetteville. Dazzling … Head coach Les Miles wasn’t in Morgantown with woeful Kansas (0-3) due to COVID, but would it really have mattered against host West Virginia (2-1) in a 38-17 loss? … Game of the day: Memphis (2-1) escaped with an entertaining 50-49 nail-biter over visiting UCF (2-2) when Daniel Obarski missed a 40-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in Central Florida’s bid to win on a final drive.