Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as top-ranked Clemson jumped on top of The Citadel early and often Saturday in taking a 49-0 lead at halftime.
Led by their Heisman Trophy candidate, the Tigers scored the first seven times they touched the ball in the first half, including a 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker James Skalski. The Clemson offense scored touchdowns on its first six drives of the half.
Lawrence completed the first half completing 8-of-9 passes for 168 yards. His three touchdown passes were 17 yards to Frank Ladson, 44 yards to Amari Rodgers and 54 yards to Ladson. He also ran two yards for another score.
Freshman D.J. Uiagalelei had touchdown runs of one and six yards, as well.
Clemson’s other Heisman candidate also had a strong first half, though he did not get in the end zone. Running back Travis Etienne ran the ball eight times for 68 yards. He also caught one pass for 11 yards and had a 44-yard punt return to set up Uiagalelei’s first touchdown.
Ladson caught three passes for 87 yards in the first two quarters.
Defensively, Clemson smothered the Bulldogs in the Tigers’ home opener. The Citadel had just 36 total yards, while their triple-option offense was ineffective against Clemson’s defense. The rushed for minus-2-yards on 22 carries.
Clemson started the game with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead. Lawrence capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Landson with 12:36 to play in the first quarter.
Etienne had a 28-yard run on the drive. He also caught a screen pass for 11 yards.
Clemson extended the lead to 14-0 with a 44-yard touchdown strike from Lawrence to Rodgers on the second play of the Tigers’ second drive. The touchdown came with 9:41 mark of the first quarter.
Lawrence’s throw to Rodgers was a beautiful deep ball down the middle of the field. Rodgers hauled it in to atone for a drop he had on Clemson’s first possession.
The score moved to 21-0 thanks to a two-yard run by Lawrence. It was then followed up with a 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown on defense by Skalski to make it 28-0.
Uiagalelei scored the first touchdown of his college career just a few plays later after coming into the game on the fourth possession. Clemson game planned the freshman to enter the game on the fourth possession regardless of the score.
On third-and-goal, Uiagalelei ran right up the gut on a quarterback keeper for a 1-yard touchdown to extend the Tigers’ lead to 35-0 with 13 minutes left in the opening half.
The freshman’s touchdown was set up by a 44-yard punt return by Etienne.
Lawrence then continued his hot start with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Ladson, giving the Tigers a 42-0 lead with 9:55 to play in the half. Clemson needed just three plays to go 72 yards on the drive.
Uiagalelei scored on a 6-yard run to make it 49-0.