At the 3:15 mark of the first quarter, Clemson appeared to be in trouble. Though the score was just 3-0 in favor of Texas A&M, the Aggies were pushing Clemson’s vaunted defense around and the Tigers’ offense had accomplished precisely zero. Clemson’s first drive lost six yards before a punt, and its second possession appeared headed to the exact same end. Facing a 3rd and 15 from its own 20, it appeared Dabo Swinney may be forced to make his first tough decision of this young season, between veteran quarterback Kelly Bryant and his talented true freshman Trevor Lawrence.
And then Bryant threw to Amari Rodgers.
Rodgers snagged the ball and dashed for a 64-yard gain, turning a 3rd-and-15 into a 1st-and-10 at the A&M 16. Bryant scored on a 1-yard dash four plays later to give Clemson a lead it would not relinquish through the first half.
After forcing an A&M punt, Clemson put Lawrence in the game, and the freshman immediately made the absolute most of his opportunity, finding Tee Higgins for a snatch-and-dash 64-yard score. (In fairness, the catch and run were better than the throw).
Nevertheless, Clemson had a 14-3 lead at the 14:13 mark of the second quarter, which would hold through the remainder of the frame.
Outside of those two plays, Texas A&M has largely held its own with the Tigers. The Aggies put together an 11-play, 66-yard drive, an 8-play, 32-yard drive and an 8-play, 30-yard drive, but managed just three points after all three marches stalled, which was compounded when Aggies kicker Daniel LaCamera missed his first try and had his third blocked.
Clemson also forced Texas A&M into three three-and-outs, plus another drive that went four yards in five plays.
Texas A&M caught a break when a Clemson drive that moved 53 yards after the blocked LaCamera field goal ended when a 4th-and-goal try from the 1 never made it out of the backfield, as the under center snap sputtered through Bryant’s legs, forcing Adam Choice to hop on the ball rather than concede a turnover.
Clemson will receive to open the second half.