ATLANTA — After scooping up as many tickets as he could this week for all his family and friends, Trevor Lawrence put on a nice show as second-ranked Clemson steamrolled Georgia Tech, 49-21, Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
Lawrence threw four touchdown passes while completing 13-of-18 passes for 176 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 17, 53, 3 and 30 yards to Hunter Renfrow, Justyn Ross, Travis Etienne and Tee Higgins. It was quite the homecoming for the freshman who played 45-minutes down the road in Cartersville, Ga.
“It was really cool,” Lawrence said. “I had a lot of people come to the game, a bunch of my friends. It was awesome!”
The Tigers’ 49 points were the most points ever scored by a Clemson team at Bobby Dodd Stadium, surpassing the 47 points the Tigers scored in an overtime win in 2001.
Clemson’s 28-point win was the Tigers’ largest margin of victory at Georgia Tech since the 2003 team won by 36 points at Bobby Dodd. It also marked the first time since 2001 and 2003 Clemson won back-to-back games in the historic stadium.
The Tigers’ seniors also became the first group of seniors to win four straight games over Georgia Tech since the 1996 senior class. It’s just the second time it has happened in the history of the rivalry.
Lawrence completed 9-of-14 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. All of it came in the second quarter as Clemson built a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets (1-3, 0-2 ACC) opened the game with a long drive that got them to the Clemson 16-yard line. But a procedure penalty, a fumble and sack-fumble and another penalty pushed the ball back and out of field goal range.
The Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC) grabbed the lead thanks to the defense which smothered Tech after the opening drive. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins forced a TaQuon Marshall fumble. He then picked up the loose ball and fumbled it where defensive end Clelin Ferrell landed on the loose ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 3:42 to play in the first quarter.
After Clemson struggled to move the ball under starter Kell Bryant, Lawrence came into the game and guided the Tigers on a 7-play, 74-yard drive. He capped the drive by throwing a dart to Renfrow for a 17-yard touchdown. That gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 9:11 to play in the half.
On Clemson’s next possession, Lawrence hit a wide-open Ross in stride for a 53-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 7:05 to play in the half.
Lawrence’s only mistake came on the Tigers’ next possession as his pass hit off the backside of reserve center Gage Cervenka and was intercepted. The Yellow Jackets later cashed in on the turnover as Marshall ran 11 yards for a touchdown with 2:08 to play before halftime.
But Lawrence bounced back and completed 6-of-10 passes for 55 yards and ran 11 yards as he guided Clemson on a 12-play, 64-yard drive in 1:53. He capped the drive with his three-yard touchdown pass to Etienne with five seconds to play before halftime.
Clemson added to its lead in the second half. Tavien Feaster, who was banged up in the first half, ran for a 27-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter and then Etienne later scored on a 3-yard run on the next possession.
Etienne finished the game with 122 yards on the ground, while Feaster added 75 yards. Clemson finished the game with 480 total yards, including 248 on the ground.
Georgia Tech had 203 yards, just 146 on the ground. The Jackets came into the game averaging 392.6 yards per game on the ground. The Tigers had 10 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Lawrence’s last touchdown pass came with 4:01 to play in the game when he hit Higgins across the middle for a 30-yard score.
Clemson will return home next week to host undefeated Syracuse at Death Valley. Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised nationally on ABC.