With the 82,000 fans in attendance still holding their collective breaths, Clemson running back Travis Etienne allowed them all to breathe a sigh of relief.
The freshman, who has been the talk of the campus since fall camp began in August, busted off a 50-yard touchdown run with 5:41 to play to secure what was a harder than expected 34-7 victory over Boston College for the nation’s second ranked team on Saturday.
Etienne finished the game with 113 rushing yards and two scores, while quarterback Kelly Bryant rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers beat BC for a seventh straight year. Clemson rushed for 342 yards as a team.
Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) found itself in a dogfight earlier in the game when the Eagles’ running back A.J. Dillon scored on a one-yard run with 3:30 to play in the third quarter. However, the Tigers finally broke the tie with four fourth-quarter touchdowns and 213 total yards in the fourth. Clemson entered the final quarter with 269 total yards, but finished with 482 yards.
Clemson regained the lead at 14-7 on a six-yard touchdown run from Adam Choice, who carried the ball six times for 26 yards. The drive took seven plays and covered 67 yards over the course of 3:11.
The Tigers began with their best field position of the game starting at their own 33 and capitalized on it. Kelly Bryant completed his first three passes of the drive to advance the Tigers into Boston College territory.
C.J. Fuller fumbled on a 12-yard carry and Milan Richard fell on the ball across the down marker to extend the drive. Bryant then completed a 23-yard pass to Diondre Overton for a first down setting up Choice’s run on first-and-goal.
Etienne then put the game out of reach with his 50-yard run, while Bryant scored his second touchdown, a 4-yard run, on the Tigers’ next possession. Etienne then capped the 27-point quarter with a 10-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds to play in the game.
Boston College (1-3, 0-2 ACC) tied the game in the third quarter when Dillon went over from a yard out with 3:30 to play. Dillon’s touchdown capped a 37-yard scoring drive, set up when Michael Walker returned a punt 27 yards.
On third down, when quarterback Anthony Brown found tight end Tommy Sweeney for six yards to the Clemson 29. Jon Hillman had an 11-yard reception plus a 12-yard run to set up Dillon’s one-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
The Tigers led 7-0 at halftime when they finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter, taking a 7-0 lead with 7:16 to play in the half on Bryant’s 11-yard touchdown run. The drive covered 94 yards on 13 plays and took over 5:56 off the clock.
The Tigers established the run-game with a combination of Bryant, Tavien Feaster and Etienne. The drive was saved when Taylor Hearn scooped up a Bryant fumble and rumbled forward for a first down. On the 13-play drive, Clemson ran the ball 11 times for 95 yards.
Both running backs carried the ball well on the drive and also set up key blocks allowing Bryant to run and eventually score on a second-and-five play from 11 yards out. Feaster’s block on the edge allowed Bryant to get outside and scoot into the end zone.
Feaster finished the game with 73 yards on 20 carries.
Despite the one touchdown drive, Clemson’s defense was on point all afternoon. Boston College totaled just 238 yards, just 97 on the ground on 34 carries. However Dillon’s one-yard run was the first rushing touchdown the Tigers have allowed this year.
The Eagles were 4-of-16 on third down, were sacked twice and intercepted twice. Trayvon Mullen and A.J. Terrell had the interceptions.
Clemson will visit Virginia Tech next Saturday for an 8 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.