South Carolina Game­cocks sur­vive shootout – but barely

The State (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY MATT CON­NOLLY mcon­nolly@thes­tate.com

Clem­son con­tin­ued its dom­i­nant run through the ACC on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon, putting to­gether an­other record break­ing per­for­mance in the process.

The Tigers de­stroyed Louisville 77-16, a week af­ter dis­man­tling Florida State 59-10 and hand­ing the Semi­noles their worst home loss in school his­tory.

The 77 points Clem­son scored was its most against an FBS team since Clem­son scored 82 against Wake For­est in 1981. It was also the sec­ond-most points Clem­son has ever scored in an ACC game.

The vic­tory im­proves No. 2 Clem­son to 9-0. The Tigers can clinch the ACC At­lantic ti­tle and a spot in the ACC ti­tle game with a win next week at Bos­ton Col­lege.

“That was a good ex­pe­ri­ence for our team, and it was a lot of fun,” Tigers coach Dabo Swin­ney said. “We’re 9-0, but we’re not sat­is­fied. We want to win our di­vi­sion, and we’ll have that

op­por­tu­nity next week. We’ve worked all year to get to this point, so we’ll en­joy this win and get back to work on Mon­day.”

The Tigers were com­pletely dom­i­nant from the open­ing min­utes, jump­ing out to a 14-0 lead less than three min­utes into the game and never look­ing back.

Clem­son had 10 dif­fer­ent play­ers score a touch­down, in­clud­ing de­fen­sive tackle Dex­ter Lawrence, who scored on a 2-yard rush­ing touch­down. Dabo Swin­ney’s son Will Swin­ney, who is a walk-on holder and backup re­ceiver, also scored. Will Swin­ney caught an 8-yard touch­down pass from Chase Brice mid­way through the fourth quar­ter. Clem­son played 94 play­ers in the vic­tory.

“I’ve been do­ing this a long time, and the fo­cus of this group is spe­cial. They’re so com­mit­ted to what we’re do­ing and what we want to ac­com­plish,” Swin­ney said. “They pre­pare and prac­tice the right way and be­lieve in what they do. As coaches, we’re do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to help them get what they want to achieve. They want to be re­mem­bered for­ever, not just re­mem­bered.”

Trevor Lawrence passed for only 59 yards as Clem­son did most of its dam­age on the ground.

The Tigers rushed for 492 yards with Travis Eti­enne lead­ing the way with 153 and a touch­down on only eight car­ries. Lyn-j Dixon added 116 yards and a touch­down on four car­ries, while Tavien Feaster had six car­ries for 102 yards and a score. Adam Choice rushed for 43 yards on only three car­ries.

Clem­son’s four schol­ar­ship run­ning backs fin­ished with 413 yards on 21 car­ries for an av­er­age of 19.7 yards per rush.

“The run­ning backs are a veteran group, and they sup­port each other,” Swin­ney said. “Travis is awe­some, and we truly have the type of depth that you need to have to pro­duce a cham­pi­onship-cal­iber team. You have to give credit to the of­fen­sive line, too. We chal­lenged the of­fense to run the ball to­day, and it was just a great day for those guys.”

THREE POINTS

Star of the game: Travis Eti­enne needed only eight car­ries to top the 150 yard mark, fin­ish­ing with 153 and a touch­down while av­er­ag­ing 19.1 yards per at­tempt.

Play of the game: Clem­son’s sec­ond pos­ses­sion was one play as Tavien Feaster burst through the line of scrim­mage for a 70-yard touch­down run to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead less than three min­utes into the game.

Stat of the game: 49281: Clem­son out­rushed Louisville 492 to 81 and av­er­aged 13.3 yards per carry com­pared to 2.3 by Louisville.

OB­SER­VA­TIONS

Clem­son has hit its stride: For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week Clem­son com­pletely dom­i­nated its op­po­nent, scor­ing at will.

The Tigers have tons of depth: Clem­son had 10 dif­fer­ent play­ers score a touch­down and played 94 play­ers, in­clud­ing sev­eral walk-ons.

A ton has changed in two years: Clem­son had to hang on late to top Louisville 42-36 two years ago. The Tigers could have named the score on Sat­ur­day.

RICHARD SHIRO AP

Clem­son’s Isa­iah Sim­mons (11) cel­e­brates af­ter re­turn­ing an in­ter­cep­tion for a touch­down dur­ing the first half against Louisville on Sat­ur­day.

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