Junior running back Travis Etienne rushed for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns as No. 1 Clemson rolled to a 52-14 victory over Georgia Tech Thursday night at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed for one touchdown and ran for another as the Tigers opened defense of their second national championship in three years with a dominant performance in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Despite missing seven starters off last year’s defense, Clemson put the clamps on the Yellow Jackets’ offense, allowing 294 total yards and 13 first downs while ringing up eight tackles for loss, including three sacks, and two interceptions.
But the star of the night was Etienne, who picked up where he left off last season when he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns. Etienne, who averaged a gaudy 17.1 yards on his 12 carries, had scoring runs of 90, 14 and 48 yards, pushing his career total to 40 and moving into third place on Clemson’s all-time list.
Lawrence, the preseason Player of the Year in the ACC and a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, wasn’t overly impressive. After being intercepted four times last season, he was intercepted twice by Georgia Tech and wound up completing 13 of 23 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown — a 62-yard strike to junior wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Clemson, which led 28-0 at halftime, amassed 632 yards of offense, including 411 rushing. The Tigers also got a 6-yard touchdown run from Lawrence as well as an 18-yard scoring run from Lyn-J Dixon, a 21-yard touchdown catch from Chase Brice to freshman Frank Ladson Jr. and a career-best 51-yard field goal by B.T. Potter.
Georgia Tech got on the scoreboard with 11:40 left in the third quarter when running back Jordan Mason scored on a 7-yard run. Wide receiver Ahmarean Brown added a 28-yard touchdown reception from James Graham in the fourth quarter.
Tech starting quarterback Tobias Oliver completed 3 of 9 passes for 65 yards and rushed for 56 yards on 20 carries.
—Field Level Media