Clemson Flashback: Tigers are first to win 4 straight outright ACC titles

Clemson Flashback: Tigers are first to win 4 straight outright ACC titles

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Clemson Flashback: Tigers are first to win 4 straight outright ACC titles

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Clemson made Atlantic Coast Conference history on December 1, 2018, thanks to a 42-10 victory over Pittsburgh at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The second-ranked Tigers became the first team in the league’s 66-history to win four straight championships, while also being the first team to win four consecutive ACC Championship Games. Clemson was also just the second Power 5 school since conference title games started in 1992 to win four consecutive conference championship games, joining Florida who did it from 1993-’96.

With the victory, the Tigers wrapped up a fourth consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff. It was also Clemson’s 18th ACC Championship and 24th conference championship overall.

Travis Etienne, who was named the ACC’s Player of the Year earlier this week, won MVP honors when he rushed for 156 yards and scored two touchdowns. The sophomore opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown. He also had a 45-yard run and scored on a three-yard run as well.

His 156 yards marked the sixth time in 2018 Etienne rushed for 150 or more yards in a game.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not have his most accurate game of the season, the freshman completed just 12-of-24 passes for 118 yards, but he threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Tee Higgins and did not throw an interception. He threw touchdown passes of 5 and 10 yards to Higgins, who led Clemson with three catches for 36 yards.

The Clemson defense bounced back after a poor showing against South Carolina the week before. The Tigers held the Panthers to 200 total yards.

Clemson took a 14-0 lead on Etienne’s two early scores. His opening game touchdown was the fastest touchdown in ACC Championship Game history as the Tigers led 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game.

Etienne made the score 14-0 with a 3-yard score with 9:29 to play in the quarter. The touchdown was set up when defensive tackle Christian Wilkins returned a Kenny Pickett fumble 18 yards to the Pitt three.

The Tigers were driving for a possible third score when head coach Dabo Swinney elected to go for a fourth-and-three at the Pitt 19. However, Lawrence missed fired on a pass to Higgins.

Pitt took the ball over on downs and drove 62 yards in nine plays for a 37-yard field goal with 1:46 to play in the first quarter.

The Panthers later made it a 14-10 game when running back Qadree Ollison rumbled in from 1-yard out to cap a 6-play, 39-yard drive 7:56 to play in the first half.

But, as fast as Pitt got back in the game, they quickly lost it. Etienne ran for a 45-yard gain, and five plays later Lawrence hit Higgins for their first touchdown of the night, a 5-yard pass with 4:57 left in the half.

The Higgins’ touchdown capped a 7-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Tigers a 21-10 lead at the time.

The two hooked up again with 25 seconds left in the half when Lawrence found Higgins on a skinny post from 10 yards out. That gave Clemson a 28-10 advantage. It was also the Tigers third one-play scoring drive of the game.

The touchdown was set up when cornerback A.J. Terrell intercepted Pickett’s pass and ran it back 30 yards to the Pitt 10.

Clemson forced two first-half turnovers, both of which led to touchdowns.

–video courtesy the ACC Digital Network

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