Sophomore running back Travis Etienne rushed for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns as No. 2 Clemson ran past Georgia Southern 38-7 on Saturday afternoon in a nonconference game at Memorial Stadium.
Clemson is off to a 3-0 start for a fourth straight season and for the seventh time in the last eight years. Georgia Southern slipped to 2-1.
The victory was Clemson’s 46th in the last 50 games, dating to 2014.
Georgia Southern has lost 12 road nonconference games in a row since stunning Florida 26-20 to end the 2013 season. The Eagles, who won six national championships as an FCS member, have yet to win a nonconference game as a member of the FBS, which the Eagles joined in 2014.
Saturday’s game was the only one played in South Carolina on Saturday due to Hurricane Florence. The game was originally set for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff, but was moved up to noon to allow fans to return home safely. Clemson is located 280 miles inland from the coastline most impacted by the hurricane, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.
Clemson started sluggishly, but scored three touchdowns in the second quarter for a 21-0 halftime advantage. Etienne scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 13-play, 93-yard drive, then backup quarterback Trevor Lawrence connected with freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross for a 57-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead on the Tigers’ ensuing possession.
The second-quarter onslaught was capped by running back Tavien Feaster’s 1-yard run.
Clemson outgained the Eagles 383-30 in the first half, limiting the Eagles to one first down.
Greg Huegel added a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter to push Clemson’s lead to 24-0, but Georgia Southern avoided the shutout early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Shai Werts scored on a 6-yard run two plays after an interception.
Etienne, however, responded with a 40-yard touchdown run to cap his day, and backup running back Adam Choice added a 10-yard touchdown run with 2:03 left.
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant left the game just before halftime and did not return. He appeared to land hard with his chest on the ball after being tripped up on a first-down run with about 6:50 remaining in the first half. He came off the field and was replaced by freshman backup Lawrence, who threw the touchdown pass to Ross two plays later.
Bryant completed 7 of 10 passes for 68 yards and rushed six times for 27 yards in the first half. Lawrence finished 12 of 19 for 194 yards and a score and an interception.
Clemson’s defense flexed its muscle, holding the Eagles to 140 total yards. Georgia Southern entered the game among the national rushing leaders with an average of 326.5 yards, but managed only 80 yards against the Tigers, who recorded seven tackles for loss, including five sacks.
—Field Level Media