Clemson got two touchdown passes from Trevor Lawrence and two rushing touchdowns from Travis Etienne as the second-ranked Tigers bounced back from a sluggish start to down Duke, 35-6, Saturday at Death Valley.
Lawrence completed 21 of 38 pass for 251 yards, including touchdown passes of 19 yards to Justyn Ross and 10 yards to T.J. Chase. The two touchdown passes allowed Lawrence to break Kyle Parker’s season-record for touchdown passes in a season by a freshman. Lawrence now has 21 touchdown passes, which leads the ACC.
Etienne, the conference’s leading rusher, ran for 81 yards on nine carries and scored on touchdown runs of 29 and 27 yards in the third quarter.
With his second touchdown of the game, Etienne notched his 17th rushing touchdown of the year, tying Clemson’s record for rushing touchdowns in a single season, held jointly by Lester Brown (1978), James Davis (2006) and Wayne Gallman (2016).
The second touchdown was also Etienne’s 18th total touchdown of the season, tying him with Travis Zachery (18 in 2000) and DeAndre Hopkins (18 in 2012) for second-most in a season in school history, trailing only C.J. Spiller’s 21-touchdown season in 2009.
After trailing 6-0 with 22 seconds left to play in the first quarter, the Tigers (11-0, 8-0 ACC) scored 35 unanswered points, including 14 points in the second and third quarters.
Clemson started the game rather sluggishly, as the offense managed just 32 yards in the opening 15 minutes, while the defense gave up 127 yards.
Clemson wide receivers dropped four passes, while the running game managed just 17 yards in the first half. However, Lawrence threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ross and Tavien Feaster had a 2-yard touchdown run as the Tigers took a 14-6 lead over Duke into the locker room.
The Tigers were 0-for-7 on third down in the first half.
Clemson’s running game struggled to do anything, as the longest run was two 5-yard runs by Feaster. Duke came into the game allowing nearly 1,100 rushing yards in the three previous games.
The Clemson defense struggled early on as well, allowing 83- and 37-yard scoring drives. The Blue Devils (7-4, 3-4 ACC) finished the first half with 175 total yards and was 4-of-12 on third down.
Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 16-of-31 passes for 106 yards in the first 30 minutes. However, Jones finished the game 24-of-43 for 158 yards and was sacked four times.
Lawrence threw a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 to go in the first half to give the Tigers a 14-6 lead. The touchdown pass capped an 8-play, 68-yard drive that saw the Tigers drop two passes, one by Travis Etienne and one by tight end Brandon Galloway.
On the previous drive, Derion Kendrick dropped a long pass from Lawrence that fell right into his hands. The pass would have been a 64-yard touchdown.
Clemson took a 7-6 lead on a 2-yard run by Feaster with 12:44 to play in the first half. Feaster’s touchdown was set up by a 41-yard Lawrence to Ross pass down the near sideline.
Ross led the Tigers with catches for 76 yards.
Duke took a 6-0 lead with two first-quarter field goals by Collin Wareham. The first was a 34-yard field with 5:14 to play in the first quarter and the second was a 32-yard kick with 22 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Clemson’s defense figured things out in the second quarter and held Duke to 262 total yards.
Clemson lost wide receiver Hunter Renfrow with what looked like a concussion in the second quarter. It was announced he will not return to the game.
The Tigers extended their lead to 21-6 on a 27-yard touchdown run by Etienne on the opening drive of the . Clemson, who just 17 rushing yards the entire first half, ran for 47 yards on the first drive of the second half.
Etienne later added a 29-yard touchdown with 4:20 to play in the third quarter. On the touchdown, Etienne rumbled up the middle of the field, bouncing off would-be-tacklers as made his way into the end zone.
The touchdown run was Etienne’s 17th of the season, tying Lester Brown and James Davis for the single-season rushing record at Clemson.
The scoring drive covered 75 yards in six plays. Clemson ran for 104 yards in the third quarter.
Clemson will play rival South Carolina next Saturday at Death Valley. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and will be televised by ESPN.