The goal for Clemson on Saturday was simple. Work on the passing game, play hard for the seniors, have some fun and try not to let anyone get hurt.
Second-ranked Clemson scored on its first five possessions and then rolled to an easy 61-3 victory over The Citadel on Saturday in Death Valley. The Tigers scored on nine of their first 10 possessions.
With The Citadel now behind them, the Tigers can now get ready for rival South Carolina, who they visit next week in Columbia. Clemson’s seniors will be looking to become the first class since Charlie Whitehurst and company won four straight from 2002-’05.
With the win on Saturday, the Clemson seniors finished their careers 27-1 in Death Valley, a new Clemson record for a senior class. The Tigers also improve to 10-1 overall, marking the program’s seventh straight season in which it has won 10 games. That ties for the fifth longest streak in the history of college football.
As for the passing game, quarterback Kelly Bryant did not even play an entire half and he attempted 22 passes, while completing 17 of them for 230 yards and three touchdowns. It was by far the best half of the year for the junior as he threw touchdown passes to Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow and T.J. Chase.
In all, Bryant threw the ball to 10 different receivers and his three touchdown passes were a career high for a game.
Besides Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson each threw touchdown passes to Tee Higgins while running back Tavien Feaster had a 61-yard touchdown run. Travis Etienne also had touchdown runs of 6 and 7 yards, breaking C.J. Spiller’s freshman record for rushing touchdowns. Spiller had nine in 2006, Etienne now has 10 touchdowns.
The Tigers finished the game with 634 yards of total offense, while holding The Citadel to 216 total yards and forcing two turnovers, both interceptions.
Clemson took an early 7-0 lead when Bryant hit Cain for a 53-yard touchdown pass with 8:13 to play in the first quarter.
The drive covered 60 yards and took just five plays after the Tigers’ defense stuffed the Bulldogs on fourth-and-three from the Clemson 40 on the game’s opening possession.
Clemson jumped out to 14-0 lead on a 6-yard carry from Travis Etienne with 5:38 to go in the first quarter. The drive consisted of six plays for 49 yards and took 1:42 off the clock.
After working on the deep ball in their first drive the Tigers gave The Citadel a taste of the ground attack. Etienne carried the ball four times for 34 yards including his 6-yard touchdown run.
Clemson extended its lead to 21-0 as Bryant found Renfrow for 12 yards and a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The drive ended on eight plays and covered 69 yards in 2:17.
The Tiger offense continued to perfect its tempo on their third drive of the day. Renfrow’s touchdown is his first since the national championship game winner a year ago.
Clemson scored for the fourth time in as many tries as Bryant found Chase in the back of the end zone from 13-yards out for a 28-0 lead with 11:59 remaining in the first half. The drive consisted of 7 plays for 57 yards and took 2:17 off the clock.
The Tigers went to the air on its fourth drive as Bryant connected on five consecutive attempts including the touchdown pass to Chase. He hit Chase on a post route for the touchdown, the first of Chase’s career.
Clemson took a 31-0 lead on a 26-yard field goal from Alex Spence. The drive consisted of 8 plays and covered 45 yards and lasted 3:12.
Bryant threw the ball five times on the drive completing three passes. Spence finished off the drive with his 26-yard field goal.
The Tigers’ extended the lead to 38-0 when freshman Tee Higgins made a miraculous catch in the end zone on a tipped pass with five seconds to play in the half.
Higgins made a one-handed grab in the third quarter when Johnson found him running down the sideline. The freshman broke one tackle and then raced the remaining 78 yards for a touchdown. That made the score 58-0 at the time.