As expected, Virginia gave No. 1 Clemson all it could in the first half, but the Tigers ultimately separated itself before halftime.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to receiver Amari Rodgers late in the second quarter, while Rodgers caught a 9-yard score as well to go with running back Travis Etienne’s 16-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers led 24-10 at halftime.
The Cavaliers came into Saturday’s game wanting to show the program has improved since losing to Clemson 62-17 in last year’s ACC Championship Game. They did a good job competing with the Tigers for much of the first half. However, Clemson took control of the game midway through the second quarter.
Following a 27-yard field goal by Brian Delaney that pulled the Cavaliers with seven at 10-3 with 9:38 to play before halftime, Lawrence and the Tigers answered with their second touchdown of the night.
Facing a third-and-15 from the Virginia 27, Lawrence threw a strike to the back of the end zone, where Rodgers toe-tapped his feet on the backline to complete the 27-yard touchdown pass.
Then safety Nolan Turner picked off a Brennan Armstrong’s pass on the Cavaliers’ ensuring possession. That set Clemson up at the Virginia 36. Following a Virginia facemask penalty, it did not take the Tigers long to capitalize, as Rodgers took a pop-pass at the Cavaliers’ nine, turned the corner and then jumped over would-be-tacklers for the touchdown.
Etienne rumbled in from 16 yards out to give Clemson a 10-0 lead with 22 seconds to play in the first quarter. The drive covered 63 yards in nine plays and took 4:18 off the clock. Etienne carried the ball four times for 37 yards on the drive. He also had a 17-yard run to start the drive.
B.T. Potter got Clemson on the board with a 47-yard field goal to complete the Tigers’ first drive of the game.
Virginia did add a late touchdown with 41 second to play in the half, as Armstrong found Terrell Jana for a 23-yard touchdown down the middle of the field. That made the score 24-10.
Lawrence finished the first half 15-of-23 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Etienne had 10 carries for 54 yards to go with his 16-yard touchdown, his 38th game in which he scored a touchdown in his career. The touchdown allowed him to tie an FBS record with Tim Tebow.
Rodgers finished the game with five catches for 47 yards. Frank Ladson had three catches for 39 yards, while Etienne added two receptions for 37 yards.