Sophomore named ACC Championship Game MVP
CHARLOTTE — It has been Travis Etienne’s year, and it did not take too long Saturday for it to be his night in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game.
The 2018 ACC Player of the Year took the opening handoff and broke off the right side where he then cut back to the middle of the field, splitting the safeties and taking the football to the house for a 75-yard touchdown, the longest play from scrimmage in ACC Championship Game history.
Clemson’s star tailback added to his record-breaking sophomore season on Saturday, running for 156 yards and scoring two touchdowns in leading the second-ranked Tigers to a 42-10 win over Pitt in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Etienne said the 75-yard touchdown was a play they had been working on all week.
“I knew it would be the first play of the game,” he said. “Getting the handoff, seeing where the backer fit, it was just well blocked. There was just a big hole. I got around that to the outside. Amari (Rodgers) had his guy standing still. I mean, after that I was gone. Amari, great block downfield. Wouldn’t have made it without him. I just thank him for that.”
Later on, in the second quarter, Etienne took his fifth carry, broke a couple of tackles and was off for a 45-yard run that set up the Tigers’ third touchdown of the night. He also added a three-yard touchdown and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player when it was all said and done.
“All that credit goes to my offensive line,” he said. “Coming in Monday through Friday, just grinding every single day, gives us the group of backs we have. You want to go out there and lay it on the line for them.”
Etienne continues to break records this season, his 3-yard touchdown with 9:29 to play in the first quarter was his 22nd-overall touchdown this year, breaking C.J. Spiller’s single-season record of 21 in 2009.
His two touchdowns also allowed him to break Spiller’s record for most points in a season. Etienne now has 132 points this season, breaking Spiller’s single-season record for a non-kicker. Spiller scored 128 points in 2009.
“Travis, I mean what can you say, he is a special player,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “He runs like he has everyone on his back. It’s awesome. The entire sideline feeds off him.”
The Tigers (13-0) rushed for 301 yards against the Panthers, the fifth time this season Clemson rushed for 300 or more yards in a game.
“I think the reason I’ve been so successful this year is just the group of backs that I have,” Etienne said. “Tavien (Feaster) coming in there, running the defenses down. Adam (Choice) coming in. You see what he is doing. When Lyn-J (Dixon) gets a chance, he’s unbelievable in the vision he has.
“All the credit just goes to those guys.”