Tee Higgins

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

No. 1 Clemson hangs on against UNC for 20th straight win

12 Comments

Over the course of a 20-game winning streak, there are bound to be some close calls. On Saturday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, No. 1 Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) had one of the closest calls of their current 20-game winning streak as the Tigers held on to escape an upset bid by North Carolina (2-3, 1-1 ACC), 21-20. Clemson came up with a stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game and prevented UNC from coming up with an onside kick to grab the win.

North Carolina did a good job of keeping Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence off his mark for most of the night (Lawrence was 18-of-30 for 206 yards and a touchdown), but he delivered a perfect pass to give Clemson its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter with a pass to Tee Higgins.

UNC had an answer, however. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell led the Tar Heels on a 16-play drive and 75 yards to get on the doorstep of the end zone in the final minutes of the game. Javonte Williams pushed the ball in for a touchdown to cut the Clemson lead to one. Head coach Mack Brown didn’t hesitate and was ready to go for two and the win. But Clemson was ready for the play and was all over Howell on the run.

After the win, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney praised the effort by the Tar Heels and admitted to being out-coached by Brown. Swinney also said his team is not entitled to win and still has to go out and earn their wins just like everybody else.

Clemson now continues to extend its winning streak to 20 games, a school record. After getting next week off, the Tigers will host Florida State. North Carolina will visit Georgia Tech next week. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 24-2 loss at Temple.

No. 1 Clemson peels Orange

Associated Press
1 Comment

After beating Clemson in the Carrier Dome two years ago and nearly doing the same in Death Valley East last year, tonight’s Clemson-Syracuse game was billed preseason as a meeting of the ACC’s two best teams, a de facto ACC semifinal even. Pretty much all of that hype evaporated when Syracuse was crushed 63-20 by No. 21 Maryland last week, but, still. If this is truly the ACC’s second-best team… woof.

Trevor Lawrence tossed two interceptions and generally put in a workmanlike effort, and still the defending champions won with ease: No. 1 Clemson 41, Syracuse 6.

Lawrence completed 22-of-39 passes for a career-high 395 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing four times for 42 yards and an additional score. Most of his success through the air came on jump balls and screens to his massive, speedy wide receivers. Tee Higgins caught seven passes for 150 yards, Amari Rodgers snared four for 121 yards and two scores, and Justyn Ross snared five passes for 64 yards.

The heroes of the night were the Tigers’ defenders. Clemson (3-0, 2-0 ACC) limited Syracuse (1-2, 0-1 ACC) to 184 yards of total offense. Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito was 15-of-27 for just 172 yards with an interception and while absorbing six sacks.

If there was one moment of drama on the night, it came early in the third quarter when, trailing 17-6, Syracuse linebacker Christopher Frederick intercepted Lawrence and returned the ball to the Clemson 9, but DeVito gave the ball right back by throwing it to Clemson’s Mario Goodrich.

Lawrence hit Rodgers for an 87-yard touchdown two plays after that and the game was all but over.

No. 1 Clemson just too much as Tigers stroll to 24-10 win over No. 12 Texas A&M

Getty Images
4 Comments

Clemson’s biggest test a year ago during the regular season was going into College Station and holding off a furious second half rally from Texas A&M. Facing perhaps their biggest test on paper of the 2019 regular season, the No. 1 ranked Tigers needed neither a close call nor a late stand at the goal line in order to dispatch the No. 12 Aggies 24-10 and extend their FBS-best win streak to 17 in a row.

Heisman Trophy favorite Trevor Lawrence continued to dazzle in the Clemson passing game, leaning on his outstanding group of receivers to help throw for 268 yards (one pick) and a touchdown pass to a wide open Justyn Ross (94 total yards to go with the score). Tee Higgins chipped in with 70 yards receiving while the big news to emerge from the game came in the form of Amari Rodgers, who caught two passes for six yards less than six months after he tore his ACL.

Tailback Travis Etienne was bottled up by his standards, rushing for just 53 on the ground but finding other ways of contributing with four catches for 52 yards. It was a slow start overall for the Tigers offense, which was blanked in the first quarter but ran off 24 unanswered after that to turn an interesting game into a comfortable victory over a top 15 program.

The offensive output from the Aggies was not exactly what Jimbo Fisher had in mind for his return to Death Valley in a slightly different shade of dark red. Quarterback Kellen Mond was far from the guy we saw in last year’s meeting, throwing for 236 yards, a touchdown and an interception while also fumbling once and generally throwing a bit high on his passes all afternoon. The rushing game didn’t do him much favor with just 53 yards total but after a few early drives looked promising, the SEC visitors simply couldn’t get over the hump and make things close enough to truly threaten the defending champions.

The A&M defense did seem pretty solid overall on their side of the ball against one of the best offenses in the country but a handful of injuries, some cramps and a few missed tackles and assignments were enough to open the door for the home team. The good news is the Aggies return home and won’t leave the state of Texas until late October — having a pair of stiff tests upcoming with top 10 programs Auburn and Alabama coming to Kyle Field down the road.

As for Clemson, they passed the test in what could be their only game during the regular season against a ranked opponent given Syracuse’s earlier blowout loss to Maryland. To say Dabo Swinney’s team carries the ACC banner at this point is an understatement but the affable head coach is no doubt happy to celebrate the ‘W’ and another impressive defensive effort. This still isn’t a team that is hitting on all cylinders early in their 2019 campaign but that might not matter after getting past A&M on Saturday.

No. 1 Clemson starts title defense with blowout of Georgia Tech

Getty Images
8 Comments

Clemson picked up right where it left off: punishing anyone who dare started across from them. The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the preseason for the first time in school history, began their prowl for the first back-to-back national championships in school history with an easy 52-14 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday night.

Travis Etienne led the way for the Tigers, accounting for 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries, while Trevor Lawrence pitched in two scores.

And to think, the night actually started well for Georgia Tech.

Clemson (1-0, 1-0 ACC) accepted the ball to start the game and Georgia Tech immediately forced a three-and-out… and then gave the ball immediately back to the Tigers when Juanyeah Thomas muffed the punt and Brannon Spector hopped on it at Georgia Tech’s 16-yard line. Lawrence cashed in five plays later with a 6-yard zone read keeper to give Clemson its first of many early leads this season.

Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1 ACC), displaying its brand new (to them) spread offense, picked up two first downs on its first series but saw a promising series end in flames when a backfield miscommunication on a 1st-and-10 at midfield result in an 11-yard loss and a punt.

Travis Etienne put the game in comfort territory for Clemson on the next possession when he raced 90 yards for a touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-0 lead at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter.

Leading 21-0 midway through the second quarter, Lawrence appeared to serve Georgia Tech’s first points on a platter when he tossed a pass straight to Georgia Tech’s Tre Swilling, who raced the ball 41 yards until he was knocked out by Lawrence himself at the 2.

Put in its first disadvantageous situation of this young season, Brent Venables‘ retooled defense shined, surrendering yards of one, zero and zero yards to force a 4th-and-goal from their own 1. Georgia Tech called for Oliver to toss a roll out pass, which was tipped and intercepted by Clemson’s Denzel Johnson.

Clemson then went 94 yards on five plays, the last 62 coming on a catch-and-dash from Lawrence to Tee Higgins to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.

Etienne capped his night a 48-yard touchdown run at the 12:42 mark of the third quarter, and Clemson added scores from Lyn-J Dixon and Frank Ladson, Jr. (via Chase Brice) over the course of the second half.

Georgia Tech got on the board with a 7-yard Jordan Mason run at the 11:40 mark of the third quarter, a score that was set up with — get this — a 54-yard pass from Tobias Oliver to Jerry Howard, Jr. The Yellow Jackets then added a 28-yard touchdown pass from James Graham to Ahmarean Brown with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Breaking in a a spread offense under new head coach Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech experienced mixed success, as would be expected in an opening game that happens to come inside the home of the defending national champions. Oliver started the game and posted a Paul Johnson-era line of 3-of-9 for 65 yards and two interceptions while rushing 20 times for 56 yards. Graham experienced more success through the air, completing 4-of-7 attempts for 72 yards and a score. Mason led GT with 72 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Lawrence was a modest 13-of-23 for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions (the second came on a heave as time expired in the first half) while carrying three times for 24 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Clemson rushed 47 times for an even 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Smooth sailing for Clemson so far vs. Georgia Tech

Associated Press
Leave a comment

It’s so far, so good for defending national champion No. 1 Clemson, as the Tigers hold a 28-0 lead over Georgia Tech at the break in Death Valley East.

Clemson accepted the ball to start the game and Georgia Tech immediately forced a three-and-out… and then gave the ball immediately back to the Tigers when Juanyeah Thomas muffed the punt and Brannon Spector hopped on it at Georgia Tech’s 16-yard line. Lawrence cashed in five plays later with a 6-yard zone read keeper to give Clemson its first of many early leads this season.

Georgia Tech, displaying its brand new (to them) spread offense, picked up two first downs on its first series but saw a promising series end in flames when a backfield miscommunication on a 1st-and-10 at midfield result in an 11-yard loss and a punt.

Travis Etienne put the game in comfort territory for Clemson on the next possession when he raced 90 yards for a touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-0 lead at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter.

Leading 21-0 midway through the second quarter, Lawrence appeared to serve Georgia Tech’s first points on a platter when he tossed a pass straight to Georgia Tech’s Tre Swilling, who raced the ball 41 yards until he was knocked out by Lawrence himself at the 2.

Put in its first disadvantageous situation of this young season, Brent Venables‘ retooled defense shined, surrendering yards of one, zero and zero yards to force a 4th-and-goal from their own 1. Georgia Tech called for Oliver to toss a roll out pass, which was tipped and intercepted by Clemson’s Denzel Johnson.

Clemson then went 94 yards on five plays, the last 62 coming on a catch-and-dash from Lawrence to Tee Higgins.

In a stat line that seems quite similar to other Georgia Tech games, Oliver finished the first half 2-of-7 for 11 yards and an interception while leading the Yellow Jackets with 16 carries for 61 yards. Jordan Mason rushed nine times for 42 yards.

Lawrence completed 12-of-22 tosses for 148 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions (the second of which came on a heave as time expired in the half) while adding three carries for 24 yards and a score, and Etienne compiled 145 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Georgia Tech will receive to open the second half.