CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — If not for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, No. 1 Clemson might trail North Carolina at halftime. Instead, the Tigers’ signal caller made plays with his arm and his legs to force a 14-14 tie at halftime.
Lawrence competed 10-of-13 passes for 126 yards and ran 8 times for 29 yards and a touchdown as Clemson finds itself in a dogfight with the Tar Heels. Travis Etienne ran for 51 yards and scored on a 13-yard touchdown, but he also lost a fumble which set up the Tar Heels second touchdown of the game.
Freshman quarterback Sam Howell stunned the Clemson defense with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dyami Brown on the fourth play of the game. Howell was 9-of-15 in the first 30 minutes for 99 yards.
North Carolina had 170 total yards in the first half against a Clemson defense that came into the day yielding just 245.
Clemson tied the game in the second quarter on a 13-yard Etienne touchdown. The junior running went right up the middle untouched on second-and-goal to tie things up at 7 with 12:43 to play in the first half.
Etienne’s touchdown was set up by a 31-yard pass from Lawrence to Justyn Ross that moved the ball to the UNC 10-yard line. The scoring drive covered 89 yards in 10 plays.
The Tigers had some momentum after the touchdown, but North Carolina’s Jeremiah Gemmel stripped Etienne of the football and the Tar Heels recovered at the Clemson 42. UNC then got a 31-yard run from Michael Carter to the Clemson 11.
On third down-and-nine from the Clemson 10, Howell scrambled to keep a play alive and found Beau Corrales wide open over the middle for a touchdown. That gave the Heels a 14-7 lead with 7:55 to play in the first half.
The Tigers tied the game again, this time at 14, with 33 seconds to play in the first half when Lawrence ran 3 yards up the middle on a quarterback draw. It was a 10-play, 78-yard drive that took 4:28 off the clock.
Clemson converted three first downs on the drive as Lawrence stepped away from the blitz and scrambled 16 yards for a first down on third-and-4 from his own 28. Later in the drive, on third-and-nine from the UNC 27, he avoided the blitz again up the middle, rolled to his left and then threw a dart 17 yards to the Tar Heels 10.
On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Lawrence again came through, running three yards for the touchdown on the quarterback draw.
Lawrence went 3-for-3 for 45 yards on the drive and had three rushes for 25 yards as the two teams went in the locker room tied at 14.