CHARLOTTE — Running back Travis Etienne took the game’s first play from scrimmage 75 yards to open the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game Saturday at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte.
Etienne later added a 3-yard touchdown and then a 45-yard run, which led to another touchdown as second-ranked Clemson leads Pitt, 28-10, at halftime.
Etienne ran for 143 yards on nine carries to go along with his two touchdowns. The Clemson running back became the fifth Clemson player to run for more than 100 yards in the ACC Championship Game.
The Tigers had three one-play touchdown drives which took 13 seconds, three seconds and four seconds.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not have his most accurate half, completing just 7-of-14 passes for 52 yards. However, he still threw touchdown passes of 5 and 10 yards to Tee Higgins, who led Clemson with two catches for 15 yards.
Clemson took a 14-0 lead on Etienne’s two scores. His opening game touchdown was the fastest touchdown in ACC Championship Game history as the Tigers led 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game.
Etienne made the score 14-0 with a 3-yard score with 9:29 to play. The touchdown was set up when defensive tackle Christian Wilkins returned a Kenny Pickett fumble 18 yards to the Pitt three.
The Tigers were driving for a possible third score when head coach Dabo Swinney elected to go for a fourth-and-three at the Pitt 19. However, Lawrence missed fired on the pass to Higgins.
Pitt took the ball over on downs and drove 62 yards in nine plays for a 37-yard field goal with 1:46 to play in the first quarter.
The Panthers later made it a 14-10 game when running back Qadree Ollison rumbled in from 1-yard out to cap a 6-play, 39-yard drive 7:56 to play in the first half.
But, as fast as Pitt got back in the game, they quickly fell behind again. Etienne ran off a 45-yard jaunt and five plays later Lawrence hit Higgins for their first touchdown hookup, a 5-yard pass with 4:57 left in the half.
The Higgins’ touchdown capped a 7-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Tigers a 21-10 lead at the time.
The two hooked up again with 25 seconds left in the half when Lawrence found Higgins on a skinny post from 10 yards out. That gave Clemson a 28-10 advantage. It was also the Tigers third one-play scoring drive of the game.
The touchdown was set up when cornerback A.J. Terrell intercepted Pickett’s pass and ran it back 30 yards to the Pitt 10.
Clemson forced two first-half turnovers, both of which led to touchdowns.