When running back Travis Etienne fumbled on Clemson’s first drive of the game, Tech had a chance to take an early lead. Then the Tigers' defense forced a three-and-out, and on the next possession, the Tigers took a 7-0 lead.
The Yellow Jackets came back to tie things with a 59-yard touchdown strike from freshman quarterback Jeff Sims to wide receiver Jalen Camp, but Tech’s momentum was short-lived. One play later, Lawrence found receiver Amari Rodgers wide open for an 83-yard touchdown. The Tigers didn’t look back from there.
Clemson scored 35 points in the second quarter alone as Tech’s defense struggled to contain the two-headed snake that is Lawrence and Etienne. Etienne had a relatively quiet game, with only 44 total yards and one touchdown in the first half, in addition to losing a fumble, but stopping Etienne opens things up for Lawrence in the passing game.
“They did a good job stopping the interior run,” Elliott said. “Because of that, they were vulnerable to the pass. Early on, we were trying to stay balanced but they were giving us opportunities in the passing game.”
Lawrence took full advantage of those opportunities. He set a personal record with five passing touchdowns in the first half and a career-high 404 total passing yards.
“We had a couple of busted plays, but he’s a good quarterback and he was just finding the open guys,” said cornerback Zamari Walton, who intercepted Lawrence. “He was getting some tight balls in. I think he just made a couple of good throws that could have been stopped, but they were really good throws.”
When these two teams played in September a year ago, Clemson won 52-14. On Saturday, the Tigers scored 52 points in the first half alone and finished with 73.
“We just want to go out and put up as many points (as possible),” Elliott said. “For us, every game, the objective is to score every time we touch the football.”
For all intents and purposes, Clemson did just that Saturday.