Instant Replay: No. 2 Clemson 61, The Citadel 3

Instant Replay: No. 2 Clemson 61, The Citadel 3

Football

Instant Replay: No. 2 Clemson 61, The Citadel 3

Second-ranked Clemson defeated The Citadel, 61-3, on Saturday in Death Valley. The Tigers improved to 10-1 on the season, while The Citadel fell to 5-6.

Here is a look back at how Clemson earned the victory:

What happened?

Clemson dominated the game on both sides of the ball, scoring on nine of its first 10 possessions while keeping The Citadel off of the scoreboard until the final minutes.

After stuffing the Bulldogs on fourth-and-3 from the Clemson 40-yard line on the game’s opening possession, the Tigers took over and struck first on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Kelly Bryant to Deon Cain with 8:13 left in the first quarter. Freshman running back Travis Etienne gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with a 6-yard run at the 5:38 mark of the opening period before Hunter Renfrow caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bryant with 51 seconds remaining in the frame. It marked Renfrow’s first score since the national championship game last season.

The Tigers pushed their lead to 28-0 in the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from Bryant to redshirt freshman receiver T.J. Chase, his first career touchdown. Alex Spence added a 26-yard field goal, freshman receiver Tee Higgins made a miraculous catch on a tipped pass in the end zone with five seconds before halftime, and the Tigers entered the locker room with a 38-0 lead.

Clemson kept piling on in the second half, starting with a 61-yard touchdown run by sophomore Tavien Feaster less than 30 seconds into the third quarter. Etienne tacked on his second touchdown of the game, a 7-yard run at the 9:11 mark of the third quarter, before Higgins scored his second touchdown of the game on a 78-yard reception from freshman quarterback Hunter Johnson. Senior kicker Christian Groomes rounded out Clemson’s scoring with a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The Citadel kicker Jacob Godek spoiled Clemson’s shutout bid with a 30-yard field goal with less than three minutes to play.

What went right?

A lot, especially the performance of Bryant. Despite playing less than a half, the junior completed 17-of-22 passes for 230 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Etienne, who scored twice and ran for 62 yards, broke C.J. Spiller’s school record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman.

Higgins racked up 178 yards and his two touchdowns on six catches, while Cain caught five passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Overall, 15 different receivers recorded a catch, and four different receivers caught a touchdown. Clemson posted 662 yards of total offense, including 479 through the air.

Defensively, the Tigers were stingy as usual, allowing just 216 yards and 10 first downs. Clemson held the Bulldogs to a 4-of-17 clip on third down, forced two turnovers and had eight tackles for loss.

What went wrong?

Not much. If you’re being nitpicky, you could point out that the Tigers fumbled twice, though it didn’t lose either of them. Tight end D.J. Greenlee dropped what would have been a touchdown, and kicker Drew Costa missed an extra-point attempt. But that’s about it.

Game-changing moment?

Clemson got off of the bus and ran down the hill. This one was over when the Tigers showed up.

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