NC State did not want to get beat by Clemson’s running game. No problem. With State loading the box to take away the run, the Tigers let freshman Trevor Lawrence show off his dynamic right arm, and he did not disappoint in a 41-7 victory. Lawrence passed for 308 yards, the first 300 yard passing game of his career.
Lawrence did all of his major damage in the first half as the Tigers built a 24-0 lead. He was 21-29 for 244 yards and 1 touchdown, a 46 yard pass to Tee Higgins. While not particularly sharp with his deep balls, Lawrence picked apart the State secondary with sideline passes and underneath stuff. In one stretch he hit on 11 of 12 attempts with 21 yards the longest gain.
The Tigers came into the game averaging 281 rushing yards per game but the Wolfpack loaded the box at the outset and Dabo Swinney countered with his passing game. Lawrence attempted 16 first quarter passes and finished the day 26-39 with a rating of 141.5.
The Tigers rushed for a season low 91 yards. Travis Etienne had just 39 yards on 15 carries snapping his streak of consecutive 100 yard rushing games at four, but he did rush for three touchdowns becoming the first back in school history to rush for three touchdowns in three straight games.
The Clemson defense stymied the high-scoring Wolfpack offense all afternoon. State did not reach the end zone until the third quarter ending a stretch for the Clemson defenders of 30 true possessions over three games without giving up a touchdown. State’s longest play, a 37 yard pass, came in the final minutes against Clemson’s backups.
NC State was leading the nation coming into the game converting on third down but was held to just 2-12 on third down by the Clemson defense. Isaiah Simmons led the defense with 11 tackles including 8 solo hits and 1 quarterback pressure.
The Tigers intercepted Ryan Finley twice, once by K’Von Wallace and the second by Jalen Williams, giving them six against him in three seasons and held him to a season low 156 yards. The 297 total yards also was a season low for State. Along with the two interceptions, the Tigers totaled 10 tackles for a loss of 33 yards and one sack.
The win, the second largest for the Tigers over a top 20 team, extends Clemson’s winning streak in the Textile Bowl to seven. The Tigers are now 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC. They will play next Saturday afternoon at Florida State with kickoff set for Noon.
Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney
Here’s my postgame recap via Periscope
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) October 21, 2018