Statement Made: Tigers rout Seminoles in Death Valley mismatch
Isaiah Simmons reacts after an early play.

Statement Made: Tigers rout Seminoles in Death Valley mismatch

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – No. 2 Clemson spent two weeks hearing how it needed to make a statement against FSU. That statement was made and it was heard loud and clear for the 750th win in the history of the Clemson program.

Two weeks after escaping Chapel Hill with a narrow win, the Tigers dominated Florida State in a 45-14 victory on a sun-splashed fall afternoon in Death Valley. Clemson improves to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC, while Florida State falls to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league. Clemson ran up over 500 yards of total offense, much of that in the first half.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence played two drives into the third quarter and ended the day 17-of-25 for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Travis Etienne carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards.

The win was Clemson’s fifth in a row over Florida State and 21st consecutive win overall. Clemson is the first program in ACC history to open 6-0 for five consecutive seasons. Clemson has also gone 27 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, the longest active streak in the country.

“I just felt like we were playing a little tight in the last game, so I just wanted our team to have an edge getting off the bus today," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "I thought our guys had the right tone. They were locked in and eager to get back on the field. We were also eager to get back to doing the things that we need to do in order to win, like winning the turnover margin, making big plays on both sides of the ball and having great rhythm on offense.

“The defense did an awesome job of getting us the ball and forced four turnovers. But the offense set the tone. Trevor Lawrence was awesome. It was a great day for Travis Etienne and the offensive line, which gave up no sacks. Overall, it was a great day and a dominant performance by our guys, and it all goes back to how we practiced this week. I knew our guys were ready to go. We also had a chance to play a lot of people and challenge our backups.”

Clemson's defense held FSU running back Cam Akers to just 34 yards.

“We were physical up front. Cam Akers is a great running back for Florida State, and we were able to limit him to 34 rushing yards on nine carries," Swinney said. "We did the little things better on defense and got our hands on some passes. That set the tone for everything else.”

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with ease. The first play from scrimmage was a 40-yard sideline strike to Tee Higgins. Lawrence tossed to Etienne on the next play, and Etienne completed a 23-yard pass to Justyn Ross to put the Tigers in the red zone. Four plays later, facing a fourth-and-one at the FSU three, the Tigers elected to go for it. Etienne took a shovel pass from Lawrence and scored to put Clemson up 7-0 a few minutes into the game.

The teams traded possessions and punts, but the Tigers found the end zone again on their third possession. Clemson drove methodically down the field, covering 66 yards in nine plays, and capped the drive with an eight-yard keeper by Lawrence. With 4:41 to play in the first quarter, the Tigers led 14-0.

Tanner Muse ended Florida State’s next drive with an interception – his team-leading third of the year – and the Tigers took over at their own 43. Eleven plays later Lawrence hit Ross in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown, and with a little over 13 minutes to play in the second quarter Clemson led 21-0.

The Clemson defense forced another three-and-out and the Tigers took over their own 22. Six plays later the Tigers scored their fourth touchdown of the day. A 23-yard pass to Amari Rodgers set up an eight-yard slant to Ross. Ross caught the ball at the two and carried the Seminole defender into the endzone and the Tigers led 28-0 with 8:58 to play in the second quarter.

Clemson put a nice drive together late in the half, reaching the FSU three-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-goal at the three, the Tigers went with a jumbo package that included Tyler Davis, Nyles Pinckney, and Logan Rudolph as blockers with Xavier Thomas as the running back. Thomas’ run fell just short of the goal line and the Seminoles took over with 1:12 to play. Two plays later Chad Smith intercepted Blackman and returned it to the FSU 15 with 40 seconds to play.

B.T. Potter missed a short field goal and Clemson led 28-0 at the break.

The Tigers forced another Seminole punt to start the second half and it took just five plays to cover 67 yards. A 27-yard run by Etienne put him over 3,000 yards in his career and put Clemson deep in FSU territory. One play later Lawrence handed off to Lyn-J Dixon who then flipped it to Amari Rodgers. Rodgers managed to weave in and out of the defense for a 29-yard scoring run, and Clemson led 35-0 at the 11:04 mark of the third quarter.

It got worse for the Seminoles. FSU drove to their own 38, but on third down quarterback James Blackman was pressured and overthrew his receiver. The ball was intercepted by Derion Kendrick at the 38 and he raced untouched into the end zone for a pick-six and a 42-0 Clemson lead.

Florida State got on the board with a 64-yard reception by Tamorrion Terry late in the third quarter to make it 42-7. That play was the first of any kind for the Seminole offense in Clemson territory. Steven Sawicki added a late field goal to account for the final points for Clemson while the Seminoles added a late touchdown.

Clemson goes back on the road next week, traveling to Louisville for a noon kickoff.

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