Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, seeing his first game action since the Syracuse game on Oct. 24th, didn’t spend much time knocking off the rust in a 52-17 win over Pitt, Saturday. In the first quarter alone, Lawrence hit 12 of 16 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. By halftime, Lawrence had eclipsed 300 yards passing and Clemson (8-1) was firmly in control, 38-10. Lawrence, who finished with 403 yards, was honored along with the team’s seniors in the season’s final home game. This senior class finishes their career undefeated at Death Valley, the first group in school history to accomplish the feat.
Much of the damage was done early by Cornell Powell, who made four catches for 150 yards before the break, including a one-handed grab on a 70-yard completion. E.J. Williams, making his first start of the season, produced the game’s first touchdown and finished with three catches for 38 yards.
It was fitting that Williams opened the scoring on Military Appreciation Day as the freshman receiver was wearing no. 39 in memory of his father, Sgt. 1st Class Eddie Williams, Sr. Williams, Sr. died in 2010 at the age of 39 after 18 years of Army service.
Senior Travis Etienne ran for 58 yards and a pair of scores, extending his school record for rushing touchdowns to 68.
But as good as the offense was in totaling 581 yards, the defense was just as effective in thwarting Pitt. Sparked by the return of linebacker James Skalski, Brent Venables’ unit intercepted four passes and forced eight three and outs. Throughout the game, the Tigers front four manhandled Pitt’s line, consistently pressuring Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett into mistakes and misfires.
An exchange of trick plays in the second quarter best illustrated the difference between the two clubs. Pitt’s attempt at a flea flicker was double-covered and intercepted by Andrew Booth, Jr. Clemson ran a flea flicker of its own on the ensuing drive that resulted in a walk-in touchdown for Cornell Powell.
Clemson, ranked third in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, is back in action next Saturday at Virginia Tech. A win over the Hokies would secure the Tigers a sixth straight trip to the ACC Championship and set up a likely rematch with Notre Dame.
Reaction from Death Valley: