Travis Etienne was not going to let second-ranked Clemson lose on Saturday.
With quarterback Trevor Lawrence out of the game with an injury, and down by 10 points with 12:58 to play in the game, Etienne rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter in leading the Tigers to a, 27-23, come-from-behind victory over Syracuse Saturday at Death Valley.
Etienne’s 2-yard touchdown with 41 seconds to play in the game capped the dramatic comeback.
Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) trailed the Orange 23-13 with 12:58 to play following an Eric Dungey one-yard touchdown run.
But with Etienne leading the way behind an offensive line that paved the way for a career-high 203 yards on a career-high 27 carries, Clemson quickly came back.
Etienne capped a 75-yard scoring drive in six plays when went 26-yard touchdown run off right tackle to bring the Tigers within three, 23-20, with 11:08 to play.
After both teams exchanged punts, Clemson still trailed by three points with 6:06 to play as it started its game-winning drive from its own 6.
On first down, Etienne rushed 14 yards to 20 to get things going. After a five-yard run, Adam Choice went for 8 and then Tavien Feaster 11. Though Clemson ran for 74 of the 94 yards, it was Chase Brice’s 20-yard completion to Tee Higgins on fourth-and-six from the Clemson 48 that kept the game-winning drive going.
From the Syracuse 32, Clemson ran the ball six straight times, including a 17-yard run by Brice and an 11-yard run by Feaster that got the ball down to the two. With 41 seconds to play, Etienne ran right for the game-winning touchdown.
Lawrence left the game after he was hit by Syracuse safety Evan Foster as Lawrence was trying to get out of bounds. The freshman was observed on the sidelines prior to heading to the locker room early for more observations.
He was later ruled out of the game.
Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey nearly led the Orange to an upset win. He finished the came with 250 passing yards on 26-of-41 passing. He had no touchdown and one pick and ran for just 11 yards. He did run for both of Syracuse’s touchdowns.
Three turnovers nearly did the Tigers in. Two of those turnovers led to an Andre Szmyt 51-yard field goals and a one-yard touchdown by Dungey.
The biggest turnover was a muffed punt by Amari Rodgers at the Clemson 10-yard line on the last play of the third quarter. That led to Dungey’s 1-yard run with 12:58 to play.
Syracuse took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on two Andre Szmyt field goals, including a 51-yard kick. Greg Huegel missed on a 47-yard attempt in the second quarter. Szmyt also connected on a 32-yard field goal just before halftime.
Clemson took the lead in the first quarter when Etienne took a direct snap on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Tigers lined up in the jumbo package which had Dexter Lawrence in the backfield. Trevor Lawrence then went out wide like he was going to take a pass and Etienne took the direct snap and then scored off the right side.
The touchdown capped a 10-play, 60-yard drive which gave Clemson a 7-6 lead with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
Syracuse (4-1, 1-1 ACC) regained the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by Dungey. The run capped a 6-play, 70-yard drive, which was set up by a 51-yard pass form Dungey to wide receiver Taj Harris to the Clemson 14. Dungey scored three plays later to make the score 13-7 with 7:31 to play in the half.
Clemson will play at Wake Forest next Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.