CLEMSON, S.C. -Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was happy with the victory. He was even more pleased with how many of his players contributed that normally don’t get to play much but bust their tales off in practice.
For Swinney it was watching a school-record 111 people in Tiger uniforms running onto the field in the blowout win. Dabo played five quarterbacks. Nine running backs had touches. All of them, Swinney said, have a special moment in their lives.
The Tigers led 24-0 less than 16 minutes into the game and easily handled Charlotte 52-10 to earn its 19th consecutive victory and retain its #1 ranking in the FBS polls.
Lawrence completed 7 of 9 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns, including a nice pass to Tee Higgins for a 58-yard score on Clemson’s second play from scrimmage.
Clemson had three quarterbacks play extended minutes with Lawrence, Chase Brice and Taisun Phommachanh all getting meaningful reps in the game. Brice completed 5 of 7 passes for 85 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown dart to Joseph Ngata. Quarterbacks Ben Batson and Patrick McClure also saw action late in the game.
”There were just a lot of good things,” Swinney said.
The Tigers’ top two running backs, Travis Etienne and Lyn Dixon, each had touchdown runs. Etienne had 61 yards on 11 carries, while Dixon rushed eight times for 58 yards.
On the other side of the ball the Tigers put together another strong performance, holding Charlotte to 216 total yards. Clemson was balanced offensively, rushing for 235 yards and passing for 231.
”You got a lot of guys who can say they played for the Tigers. No one can take that away from them. That’s cool.” Swinney said.
Heisman Trophy contenders like Etienne and Lawrence were watching and cheering on the sidelines for their teammates.
”I think it’s just the culture that we have,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
The last two games the Tigers (4-0) didn’t waste any time putting them away in a hurry. After Lawrence’s touchdown pass to Higgins, K’Von Wallace scored on a 66-yard interception return to give Clemson a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Lawrence’s night was over when he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Cornell Powell on the first play of the second quarter.
Charlotte (2-2), which had been averaging 47 points a game, had no chance to rally against Clemson’s defense. The defense was just too strong, too fast, too athletic and plainly too much for them to handle that night.
The 49ers were stopped on a fourth-and-short on their 48 and made them play tentatively in the following series. When Charlotte got inside the Tigers 10, Clemson rallied to hold the 49ers to their only first-half points on Jonathan Cruz’s 24-yard field goal. By then the Tigers already were leading 31-0.
The Tigers scored on every drive of the first half.
Tailback Benny LeMay ran for 81 of Charlotte’s 153 yards against a Clemson defense that yielded just 75 yards rushing per game this season.
”They have a great team and they have superior athletes. That’s one thing we knew was going to be a factor in the game.” ” LeMay said.
Who: No. 1 Clemson (4-0, 2-0) at UNC (2-2, 1-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Kenan Stadium (Chapel Hill, N.C.)