By Terrance Turner
They lost in double overtime in a heartbreaker to Notre Dame on Nov. 7. But the Clemson Tigers tonight avenged their only loss of the season. They won today’s match against the Fighting Irish 34-10. Their dominant performance earned them their sixth ACC Championship. A key ingredient of their winning formula today was the star turn by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (who missed the first match versus Notre Dame, due to COVID-19).
Lawrence had an interception early, and Clemson went scoreless on the opening drive. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish scored first with a successful field goal drive. Clemson’s defense necessitated another field goal on a subsequent drive. But Notre Dame’s kicker missed the field goal attempt, leaving them with only three points.
Clemson cashed in. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence launched a pass to receiver Amari Rodgers, who took off for the touchdown. That 67-yard reception gave Clemson a 7-3 lead. They extended the lead later, after a daring sequence. Lawrence escapes a sack to run six yards. Then, on 2nd and 4, Lawrence found E.J. Williams for a 33-yard touchdown. Clemson later added a field goal to make it 17-3.
On a later drive, Lawrence acted as blocker! He stopped a Notre Dame safety from tackling Clemson running back Travis Etienne. Then, on 4th and 1, Etienne took off, running footloose and free into the end zone. That rushing TD made it 24-3 at the half.
There were no points scored in the third quarter…until Lawrence got off to the races. With 3:43 left in the quarter and a ball tucked into one arm, Lawrence sprinted 34 yards for another touchdown. His stunning score made it 31-3. After missing two games due to a positive COVID-19 test, Lawrence has stormed back to put his team ahead by four touchdowns. In the end. Lawrence was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after he completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards, with two passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown and a season-high 90 yards, the second-most of his career.
That was pretty much all she wrote. Clemson’s Nolan Turner was disqualified in the fourth quarter for targeting (on a helmet-to-helmet hit to a Notre Dame player). Notre Dame eventually did score a touchdown, but it was for naught. Clemson won 34-10, winning the ACC Championship. Lawrence becomes the first quarterback to win three ACC Championships.
“This team has been through a lot this year,” Lawrence said, adding that “we’ve gotten so much better. I’m really proud of this team.” And for good reason: the Tigers avenged their only loss this season and are now 11-1. This is the 4th straight Clemson Senior class with 50 wins in four years. “Of all the teams I’ve had, this team deserves it the most,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. He added that achieving 10 wins is hard in any season — “but in this season, it’s almost miraculous.”
Swinney added: “It would be a cryin’ shame if the Heisman didn’t attach their name to Trevor Lawrence.”