Tigers rally to beat Ohio State in the last 1:49
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Clemson continues to find its magic.
With Ohio State driving for what appeared to be a possible winning touchdown, a miscommunication from quarterback Justin Fields and Chris Olave allowed Tigers safety Nolan to intercept Fields’ pass in the end zone with 37 seconds to play, sealing No. 3 Clemson’s 29-23 victory over the second-ranked Buckeyes.
Olave thought Fields was going to throw the ball to the outside, instead Fields went the other way on a post, and Turner was there to snag the pass and send Clemson to the national championship game.
With the win, Clemson will play No. 1 LSU on Jan. 13 at the Silverdome in New Orleans.
The Tigers (14-0) took a 29-23 lead with 1:49 to play in the game after quarterback Trevor Lawrence hit running back Travis Etienne with a jump pass, which the Jennings, Louisiana native took to the end zone for what turned out to be the game winning score.
Clemson started the drive at its own 6-yard line, but the Tigers needed just four plays to cover the 94 yards. Lawrence first hit Ross for 11 yards and then he ran for 11 more to move the ball to the 28-yard line.
On the next play, Lawrence looked off his initial receiver and found Amari Rodgers crossing the middle of the field where the speedster broke a tackle and took the ball 38 yards to the Buckeyes’ 34. On the next play, Lawrence faked like he was running the football on a quarterback run, a play they ran several times in the game, but instead he popped up and threw a pass to Etienne who ran to the end zone and carried a couple of Buckeyes with him along the way.
After Higgins converted the 2-point conversion from Lawrence, the Tigers held a 29-23 lead.
But Ohio State was not done. Fields led the Buckeyes right down the field and had them in scoring position following back-to-back runs that moved the ball to the Clemson 23. But on second-and-seven, the quarterback and his receiver got crossed up on their communication and Clemson escaped State Farm Stadium with an improbable victory.
Lawrence finished the night completing 18-33 for 259 yards, while running for a career-high 107 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown just before the half. Etienne rushed 10 times for 36 yards, but caught three passes for a career-high 98 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence in the third quarter.
Etienne ran for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
After dominating the first half, Ohio State made two costly mistakes and all of sudden Clemson erased most of the Buckeyes’ 16-point lead and trailed just 16-14 at halftime.
Ohio State dominated the first 27 minutes of the game thanks to J.K. Dobbins 142 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run. Kicker Blake Haubeil made field goals of 21, 22 and 33 yards to give the Buckeyes their 16-0 lead.
Clemson frantically tried to get something going late in the half and moved the football to the OSU 45 where Lawrence was sacked by Chase Young for an 8-yard loss. However, replay ruled defensive back Sean Wade targeted Lawrence before Young got to him. The 15-yard penalty kept the drive alive.
Two plays later, Ross drew a pass interference penalty from Amir Riep. Three plays after that, on third-and-two from Buckeyes’ 8-yard line, Etienne ran right, cut back inside and then willed his way into the end zone with 2:45 to play before he half.
The Tigers forced a three-and-out on OSU’s next drive, dropping Dobbins for a 2-yard loss.
Clemson needed just five plays to find the end zone again. However, Lawrence found Ross for 16 yards on third-and-10 and after an incomplete pass to Diondre Overton, he took the ball up the middle on a designed quarterback run and then outran the Buckeye defenders to the end zone. It was the longest run of his career and cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 16-14 with 1:10 to play in the half.
The Tigers took the lead in the third quarter when Etienne caught a screen pass from Lawrence and then raced 53 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown gave the Tigers a 21-16 lead with 7:54 to play in the third quarter.
Clemson held its lead until the fourth, but Fields hit Olave for a 24-yard touchdown with 11:46 to play in the game. The touchdown pass came on a fourth-and-one call, as Fields faked the hand-off causing safety Nolan Turner to bite and leaving Olave open for the touchdown.