Sur­vival in­stinct

Re­serve QB Brice leads late drive as Tigers avoid up­set

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - College Football - By Pete Ia­co­belli As­so­ci­ated Press

CLEM­SON, S.C. — Should No. 3 Clem­son ful­fill its cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions this sea­son, pre­pare to hear plenty about “The Drive.”

With new start­ing quar­ter­back Trevor Lawrence knocked out of the game, re­serve Chase Brice — who was about sixth on the depth chart in Jan­uary — guided a 94yard, fourth-quar­ter scor­ing drive that ended with Travis Eti­enne’s 2-yard touch­down run with 41 sec­onds and gave the Tigers a 27-23 vic­tory against Syra­cuse on Sat­ur­day.

“I’ll never for­get this one,” Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney said.

This one was hard to for­get, both for the week Clem­son (5-0, 2-0 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) en­dured in go­ing from hav­ing one too many start­ing­cal­iber QBs to hav­ing none by the fourth quar­ter to the game’s dra­matic fin­ish.

Lawrence, a 6-foot-6 five-star fresh­man, sup­planted se­nior Kelly Bryant as starter. A day later, Bryant said he was trans­fer­ring and that he felt he didn’t get a fair shake at keep­ing the job.

In the se­cond quar­ter, Lawrence took hit to the head and didn’t re­turn.

Things looked bleak for the Tigers when Eric Dungey’s se­cond 1-yard rush­ing TD put Syra­cuse (4-1, 1-1) up 23-13 with less than 13 min­utes left. That’s when Clem­son put to­gether a pair of touch­down drives to stay un­beaten and avoid a se­cond straight sea­son of be­ing up­set by Syra­cuse.

Eti­enne an­swered less than two min­utes later with a 26-yard run that cut it to 23-20.

Five min­utes later, Clem­son em­barked on what might turn out to be the sea­son’s defin­ing drive.

“I think I’ll re­mem­ber that for­ever,” co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Scott said.

That was ap­par­ent. Brice, a red­shirt fresh­man with eight ca­reer passes be­fore Sat­ur­day, com­pleted a 20-yard pass to Tee Hig­gins on fourt­hand-6 to keep the drive go­ing. Brice ran for 17 yards to get the Tigers in­side the 20. And Eti­enne car­ried it across the goal line to send Me­mo­rial Sta­dium into a frenzy.

“They told us some­one had to step up,” said Eti­enne, who had a ca­reer high 203 yards and three TDs. “We all de­cided it had to be us.”

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