On Thursday, Chase Brice decided it was time to move on. The Clemson quarterback announced on Twitter he was leaving the Clemson Football Program and subsequently placed his name into the transfer portal.
Brice is expected to graduate from Clemson in May and will be a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. He will be eligible to play this coming fall.
Though Brice is choosing to leave Clemson, to Tiger fans everywhere he will always be remembered as a Clemson Man. He will always be known as a hero, too. For if was not for his heroics against Syracuse in Week 5 of the 2018 season, Clemson may not have won the national championship that year.
When he thinks back to September 29, 2018, Brice thinks about how crazy it was. Not just the game, but the whole week.
Though Clemson was ranked No. 2 in the country, many people wondered how the team would respond after then quarterback Kelly Bryant suddenly left the team the Monday before.
Head coach Dabo Swinney announced earlier in the day that Trevor Lawrence was going to start in the Tigers’ Week 5 matchup against Syracuse. The freshman was coming off a four-touchdown performance in a 49-21 win at Georgia Tech and Swinney felt he earned the right to start the game.
The plan was to start Lawrence and play Bryant as well, the same concept the coaching staff used the entire first month of the season, instead Bryant was the starter.
But Bryant, who was 16-2 as a starter at Clemson, did not like being replaced as the starter, so he walked away from Clemson. That meant quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter and co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott had to get Brice up to speed as the backup quarterback.
As we all know, it was a good thing they did.
Brice was called into service late in the second quarter when Lawrence went down with a neck injury. The Tigers were trailing 16-7 at the time.
“That game was kind of like a crazy game. I don’t know what else to say because we kind of all just came together,” Brice recalled.
With Brice leading the way, Clemson rallied. First Brice led Clemson to two third quarter field goals, cutting the lead to 16-13 after three quarters. After a muffed punt allowed the Orange to take a 23-13 lead with 12:58 to play, the real comeback began.
Travis Etienne capped a 6-play, 75-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown run with 11:08 to play in the game. The Clemson running back finished the day with 203 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
After both teams exchanged punts on the next three possessions, Clemson took over at its own 6-yard line with 6:06 to play in the game. Clemson moved the ball to its own 48-yard line before the drive started to bog down. That’s when Brice became a folk hero at Clemson.
No play the entire season was bigger than the one he made with under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on Clemson’s eventual game-winning touchdown drive.
Brice stepped up when his team needed him the most. On fourth-and-six, he dropped backed and tossed a throw to wide receiver Tee Higgins between two defenders on the near sideline for a 20-yard completion.
After moving the chains with the clutch completion, Brice scampered 17 yards for another first down on the next play, keeping the ball himself on what was a designed run call to Etienne. Four plays later, Etienne gave Clemson the lead with his third rushing touchdown of the game, a 2-yard burst that put Clemson up 27-23 with 41 seconds left.
“It was all worth it in the end,” Brice said. “Everything that happened, that had gone on, kind of being at the bottom and then all of a sudden, making some plays and us winning was kind of worth it. I definitely soaked it all in. So, it was special.”
No one came close to beating Clemson the rest of the season, as the Tigers beat their next 10 opponents by an average of 36.1 points per game, winning by at least 20 points in every outing on their way to becoming the first 15-0 team in the modern era of major college football.
The Tigers continued their run in 2019, stretching their win streak to 29 games in a row until falling to LSU in the national championship game this past Monday in New Orleans.
Though he played in 23 other games, Brice never again had a moment like he had against Syracuse that afternoon at Death Valley.
This past season, Brice completed 50-of-85 passes for 581 yards and four touchdowns as Lawrence’s backup. He also ran for 94 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown. He played in 12 games for the Tigers.
For his career, Brice completed 82-of-136 passes for 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Though he never started a game in his Clemson career, Brice will always be remembered fondly by the Clemson faithful. He will always be remembered as a Tiger, and as a champion.
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