Players of the Game: No. 3 Clemson 29, No. 2 Ohio State 23
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne stepped up for third-ranked Clemson when the team needed them the most against No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium.
Etienne caught a short pass from Lawrence and took it to the house with 1:49 left in regulation for what turned out to be the game-winning 34-yard touchdown in the Tigers’ 29-23 victory that sends the defending national champions to their fourth national title game in the last five years.
Etienne’s catch-and-run capped a four-play, 94-yard drive that took just one minute and 18 seconds after the Tigers took over at their own 6-yard line, down by two points with 3:07 left.
Clemson safety Nolan Turner sealed the game a few moments later, intercepting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the end zone with 37 seconds remaining.
Etienne, Clemson’s star running back, finished the night with three receptions for a career-high 98 yards receiving and a career-high two touchdown receptions, while his quarterback Lawrence completed 18 of 33 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for a career-high 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Lawrence’s biggest run of the night was a career-long 67-yard sprint in the second quarter for a touchdown that cut Clemson’s deficit to 16-14 with 1:10 to play in the half.
On Clemson’s previous drive, Etienne willed his way into the end zone after taking a pitch from Lawrence, stiff-arming a defender, cutting back and plowing in for an 8-yard score, which made the score 16-7 at the 2:45 mark of the second quarter.
Etienne, who rushed for 36 yards and the touchdown on 10 attempts, will return to his native Louisiana when Clemson plays LSU for the national championship on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
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