For all Trevor Lawrence has accomplished at Clemson, the one thing he had not done in his two-year career is lead his team on a late scoring drive to win the game, when his team was trailing.
Now we know.
With the Tigers down two points and the football resting at the Clemson 6-yard line with 3:07 to play, Lawrence directed a 4-play, 94-yard scoring drive to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, advancing Clemson to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
“I told the guys, ‘let’s go win it,’” Lawrence said after the game.
It did not look like Clemson (14-0) would even have a chance to win the game after the Buckeyes’ jumped out to a 16-0 lead midway through second quarter. Ohio State controlled the game for more than 25 minutes. However, things changed when Shaun Wade was charged with targeting on Lawrence on what was an 8-yard sack on a third-down play from the Buckeyes’ 45.
Defensive end Chase Young also appeared to have knocked Lawrence out of the game as he drove the Clemson quarterback into the ground after Lawrence took the headshot from Wade.
Lawrence laid on the field holding his left shoulder and in obvious pain. Then, all of sudden, he jumped up and jogged off the field. As he stood on the sideline for the one play he is required to sit out following an injury timeout, the sophomore appeared mad. When he came back in the game, things changed.
Clemson suddenly looked like a different team and from that point on, the Tigers outscored Ohio State 29-7.
“I didn’t really see anything different,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on ESPN’s Championship Drive Show Wednesday. “I thought his approach was the same the whole way. He said it just kind of made him mad and that he was thinking like hey they knocked him out or whatever.
“I just think more of anything just his resolve and his will to win was just strengthened that much more than it already was.”
From that moment on, Swinney described the Fiesta Bowl as a heavyweight bout with both teams throwing one big blow after another until Clemson finally got the knockout punch with Nolan Turner’s game-clinching interception with 37 seconds to play.
“It was a huge game and lots of momentum,” Swinney said. “Obviously, to get down 16-0, I would say most teams would fold, but to see our guys keep their poise and keep battling. All we needed was that one spark.
“Down 16-0 and then go on a 29-7 run, I think that says all you need to know about that quarterback that we got.”
Clemson and LSU will meet in New Orleans on Jan. 13 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 8 p.m., ET.
Clemson is going back to the national championship game after once again winning the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State. Get your official national championship and Fiesta Bowl champs gear right here!