Reserve QB Brice leads late drive as Tigers avoid upset
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.”