In the fourth quarter with its back against the wall, second-ranked Clemson fought back from a 10-point deficit to score the game winning touchdown with just 41 seconds remaining and win 27-23 over Syracuse (4-1, 1-1) in Memorial Stadium.
After the loss of Trevor Lawrence, to an upper body injury in the second quarter, questions loomed about the Tigers’ offensive identity. Despite some offensive struggles they showed resolve running the ball with purpose.
Clemson (5-0, 2-0) ran the ball effectively when it needed to get back in the game in the second half and rode the back of sophomore standout Travis Etienne when it needed life.
Etienne once again cemented himself as a premier rusher putting the team on his back with the game on the line. He finished the day with 27 carries for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns including the game winner from five yards out with 41 seconds left on the clock.
His first touchdown came on a direct snap for a one-yard score in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Etienne got the bulk of his work in the fourth quarter, toting the rock 10 times for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns when the game was in critical condition.
With 12:45 to play in the game the ESPN win probability metric gave the Tigers a measly 15.6% chance of winning the game. Clemson found itself down 23-13, its first double digit deficit at home in over five years, when Etienne rushed three times for 43 yards and a 26-yard touchdown run. The score cut the deficit to three with 11:08 to play and gave the Tigers a fighting chance as the clock ran down.
On Clemson’s final drive it started out with the ball at its own six and Etienne rushed for 14 yards on the first play of the drive to give the offense some breathing room and momentum.
He capped off the 13 play 94-yard drive that chewed 5:25 off the clock with a two yard touchdown run that proved to be the game winner.