The off-season at Clemson was an emotional one for quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Already dealing with the pressures that come with being the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy and the quarterback on the No. 1 team in the country, Lawrence also stepped up and became one of the team leaders in the racial equality movement, got engaged and became the face for college football when it appeared football season might be postponed or canceled due to COVID-19.
But despite carrying all of those things, Lawrence looked like a guy who was having fun in Saturday’s 37-13 victory over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. The junior threw for 351 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for two more scores. He also completed 22 of 28 passes.
Lawrence’s two rushing touchdowns marked the first time in his career he ran for two touchdowns in the same game. Both touchdowns came in the first quarter. His touchdown pass was a 12-yard throw to tight end J.C. Chalk, his first career touchdown.
Lawrence’s first touchdown run was the Tigers’ first score of the season, a 2-yard run with 8:02 to play in the first quarter. That capped a 9-play, 92-yard drive that took 3:29 off the clock.
The next time Clemson got the ball, Lawrence ran in from a yard out on third-and-goal to cap an 80-yard drive. The one-yard run gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 2:31 to play in the quarter. Travis Etienne rushed for 48 yards on five carries. Lawrence opened the drive with a 25-yard completion over the middle to Braden Galloway.
Clemson took its 24-0 lead when Lawrence found a wide-open Chalk in the back of the end zone with 1:21 to play in the half. The touchdown pass capped a 90-yard, 10-play drive, the Tigers third scoring drive of 80 or more yards on the night.
Etienne rushed 102 yards on 17 carries, while Galloway had five catches for 60 yards. Etienne also had three catches for 47 yards. Amari Rodgers caught five passes for 90 yards.
Clemson took a 17-0 lead when B.T. Potter nailed a 42-yard field goal with 10:54 to play in the half. Potter’s kick came after the Tigers drove the ball 49 yards in 10 plays and took 4:14 off the clock.
The Tigers scored on seven of their first nine possessions to take a 37-3 lead.
“I am just super proud of our guys, everybody, our whole organization, our administration,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after the game on ACCN. “Our guys have done a phenomenal job and just to be able to get out here and play football. It is something we have worked really hard for, something they fought for and I am really proud of them.”
Potter made a 52-yard field goal as time expired to extend Clemson’s lead to 27-0 at the break. Etienne added a 2-yard score in the third quarter, while Potter made his third field goal of the night, a 29-yard attempt.
Wake kicker Nick Sciba made field goals of 39 and 42 yards for the Deacons in the second half. They scored a touchdown with 2:34 to play to make the final score 37-13.
On the defensive side of the ball, Winston-Salem native K.J. Henry recorded the first of Clemson’s six sacks on the night. Freshman Bryan Bresee recorded a half sack, becoming the first true freshman Tiger to record at least a half sack in a season opener since Dexter Lawrence and Tre Lamar in 2016, a feat also accomplished by fellow true freshman Myles Murphy later in the contest.
“We really played well. We were really clean with our first groups. We played some really good football,” Swinney said. “We had a lot of really good situational stuff that came up that we can grow from and teach from.”
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