If there was any drama in the ACC Championship, it lasted through the opening kickoff.
On the first snap from scrimmage, Travis Etienne took the ball around the right end and raced 75 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Clemson’s offense went three-and-out on its next possession, but the Tigers’ Isaiah Simmons forced Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett to fumble, which Christian Wilkins recovered and returned to the Pitt 3. When Etienne strolled in on the next play, Clemson had a 14-0 lead barely five minutes into the game while gaining one first down.
Rather than kick a field goal, Dabo Swinney asked Trevor Lawrence to pass from 4th-and-4 from the Pitt 19 on Clemson’s next possession, but his toss was incomplete.
Still leading 14-0, Clemson relaxed and Pitt crawled back in the game. A 62-yard drive culminated in a 37-yard field goal, and after two Clemson three-and-outs, Pitt scored its first touchdown on a 1-yard Qadree Ollison run, pulling the Panthers within 14-10 with 7:56 left in the second quarter.
Feeling sufficiently threatened, Clemson moved 75 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 5-yard toss from Lawrence to Tee Higgins.
Rather than sit on the ball and accept a 21-10 halftime deficit, Pitt elected to throw the ball just before half when Pickett, 3-of-11 for 5 yards to that point, was intercepted by A.J. Terrell and returned 30 yards to the Pitt 10 with 29 seconds left before halftime. Lawrence hit Tiggins a second time to put Clemson up 28-10. The Clemson freshman closed the half 7-of-14 for 52 yards and two touchdowns.
Pitt will receive to open the second half.