No suspense here: Clemson dismantles Florida State early and often

USA Today Sports 1 week ago

CLEMSON, S.C. – So much for Clemson’s demise.

And so much for Florida State’s resurgence.

Clemson began dismantling Florida State from the very beginning of what would turn out to be a 45-14 victory Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

After escaping with a 21-20 victory against North Carolina two weeks ago that dropped the Tigers from No. 1 to No. 2 in the polls, Clemson eliminated all suspense in short order against a Florida State team looking for its third consecutive victory.

Clemson scored on four of its first five possessions and coasted from there.

It was the 21st consecutive victory for Clemson, extending the nation’s longest active winning streak, and pushed the Tigers to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Clemson’s margin of victory Saturday could have been considerably more, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence and many of his fellow starters assumed cheerleader roles early in the third quarter.

Still, the victory continued Clemson’s recent dominance in the series. The Tigers have won five in a row against Florida State and have outscored the Seminoles 101-17 in their last two meetings.

The victory also was the 750th in program history, making Clemson the 15th Football Bowl Subdivision team to reach that milestone, and was the 122nd of coach Dabo Swinney’s career, pushing him past College Football Hall of Famer Danny Ford, who won 121 games at Clemson and Arkansas.

Either Clemson or Florida State has won each of the last 10 Atlantic Division titles and each of the last eight ACC Championship Games. The Tigers are in the driver’s seat to extend that streak after Saturday’s dominant performance.

Lawrence, who had been maligned in recent weeks for sub-par performances, passed for 170 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Justyn Ross, and ran for a fourth as the Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 lead and left it to back-ups and reserves to handle business for the majority of the second half.

Lawrence finished a workmanlike 17 of 25 and was intercepted once, while Travis Etienne had 127 yards on 17 carries as well as a 3-yard touchdown reception.

While Clemson’s offense was getting back on track after its close victory at North Carolina and a bye week, the Tigers’ defense was dominant. Clemson held the Seminoles (3-3, 2-2) to 180 total yards and seven first downs.

Florida State running back Cam Akers, who entered the game second in rushing in the ACC with an average of 116.4 yards per game, had 34 yards on nine carries.

Clemson, which plays at Louisville next Saturday, added two touchdowns in the third quarter – a 29-yard run by wide receiver Amari Rodgers and a 38-yard interception return by Derion Kendrick, before Florida State scored when quarterback Alex Hornibrook connected with wide receiver Tamorrion Terry for a 64-yard touchdown with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

Steven Sawicki converted the first field goal of his career, a 26-yarder early in the fourth quarter, and Florida State running back Khalon Laborn added a 40-yard touchdown run with 2:41 remaining.


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