Helmet Stickers: No. 3 Clemson 29, No. 2 Ohio State 23
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Fiesta Bowl proved to be one of the most exciting games of the College Football Playoff era as third-ranked Clemson defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 29-23, with a late touchdown from Trevor Lawrence to Travis Etienne with 1:49 remaining in the contest.
The Tigers fell in a hole early and trailed 16-0 until midway through the second quarter when Trevor Lawrence stepped up to the plate. Clemson scored 21 straight points in the second and third quarters to claim a 21-16 lead.
The Buckeyes answered with a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-one play from quarterback Justin Fields to Chris Olave with 11:46 to play in the fourth quarter, giving Ohio State a 23-21 lead at the time.
But Lawrence responded with a four-play 94-yard touchdown drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Etienne and a two-point conversion pass to Tee Higgins giving the Tigers a 29-23 lead.
Nolan Turner sealed the deal with an interception with 37 seconds to play. Following each game, The Clemson Insider gave out helmet stickers to players who contributed with stellar individual performances in the victory.
Lawrence took time to find his feet early in the game but stepped up when it looked as if Clemson’s day was done.
After a targeting call on Ohio State’s Shaun Wade that took Lawrence out for a play, he came back with moxie and with 7:20 remaining in the first half, and his team down, 16-0, the sophomore quarterback commanded a 10-play 75-yard drive.
He later put Clemson back in front with a four play 94-yard drive in 1:18 that culminated in the 34-yard touchdown pass to Etienne with 1:49 left in the game.
Lawrence finished the day 18-of-33 passing for 259 yards, two passing touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Lawrence also led the Tigers in rushing with 107 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown run of 67 yards, a career high.
Smith showed up and showed out on the biggest stage and led Clemson in tackles with 12 including eight solo tackles and 0.5 tackles for a loss. Smith also went down in the third quarter, but returned to the game and continued to fight.
Etienne only amassed 36 rushing yards on 10 carries but finished the game as Clemson’s leading receiver with three receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He also was shaken up in the third quarter but stepped up big for the Tigers at the end of the game.
The junior running back caught a 53-yard screen pass in the third quarter to give the Tigers their first lead of the contest and sealed the deal with a 34-yard touchdown reception to give them the lead with 1:49 left in the contest.
Tee Higgins & Justyn Ross
Both Higgins and Ross battled minor injuries in the Fiesta Bowl, Higgins exited play on the first drive of the game and did not return until late in the game. Ross exited for a short stint in the third quarter but also returned a series later.
Ross finished with six receptions for 47 yards and Higgins hauled in four catches for 33 yards with a two-point conversion on the final touchdown.
The safety finished the game with just one tackle and had his struggles in pass coverage on Saturday night. But Turner stepped up when it mattered most and secured Clemson’s thrilling victory by intercepting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with 37 seconds to play.
Clemson returns to action on Jan. 13th in New Orleans, Louisiana for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against No. 1 LSU in the Superdome.
Clemson is going back to the national championship game after once again winning the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State. Get your official Fiesta Bowl champs gear right here!