EditorsNote: Corrects to Clemson 12-0 for third time in program history; adds location of ACC Championship Game; general edits
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed for a career-high 393 yards and a touchdown, and running back Travis Etienne rushed for 150 yards and two scores as No. 2 Clemson overcame a career-best performance by South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley to defeat the Gamecocks 56-35 Saturday night at Clemson, S.C.
Clemson improved to 12-0 for the third time in program history and remains on track for a fourth straight berth in the College Football Playoff.
The Tigers will put their unblemished record on the line next Saturday against Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C.
Clemson has won five in a row against South Carolina, which slipped to 6-5.
South Carolina’s Bentley passed for a career-high 510 yards and five touchdowns, but that wasn’t enough against a high-scoring Clemson team that amassed 744 total yards, including 351 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Etienne’s scoring runs of 2 and 7 yards gave him 19 rushing touchdowns, breaking the school’s single-season record. Graduate running back Adam Choice added three short touchdown runs for the Tigers.
The teams combined for 709 yards and seven touchdowns in the first half. South Carolina opened the game by driving 75 yards in 12 plays for a 7-0 lead — the first time Clemson’s defense had surrendered a first-quarter touchdown this season. Bentley capped the drive with a 9-yard strike to wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
Clemson responded by scoring 21 straight points for a lead it would never relinquish. Choice scored on a 1-yard run, Tee Higgins snagged a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins added a 1-yard touchdown plunge for a 21-7 lead.
After South Carolina tight end Kiel Pollard scored on a 67-yard pass play from Bentley, Choice added a 2-yard touchdown run for a 28-14 Tigers advantage. But Clemson’s defense, which allowed only one touchdown play from scrimmage in excess of 67 yards this season, got burned by the Gamecocks as Bentley found Samuel open behind the Tigers’ secondary for a 75-yard touchdown that pulled South Carolina within 28-21 at the half.
Clemson scored on each of its first three possessions of the second half to take command. Etienne got the ball rolling with his 2-yard run, Tavien Feaster followed with a 13-yard touchdown run and Choice capped off the 21-0 run with a 15-yard run.
Samuel led all receivers with 10 receptions for 210 yards and three touchdowns, while Shi Smith had nine catches for 109 yards and a score for the Gamecocks.
—Field Level Media