Miami is lucky Clemson’s 21-10 halftime lead is not worse.
The top-ranked Tigers completely dominated No. 7 Miami in the opening 30 minutes, as Trevor Lawrence threw two touchdown passes to tight end Braden Galloway, while running back Travis Etienne ran for another.
Only a dropped pass by Frank Ladson and two blocked field goal by the Hurricanes prevented the Tigers from scoring more points and really controlling the game. The Hurricanes blocked a B.T. Potter 61-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the half and cornerback D.J. Ivey picked up the ball and took it for a 48-yard touchdown.
However, Miami had no answer on how to stop Lawrence, who completed 21-of-29 passes for 244 yards in the opening half. And though Etienne was held to 29 rushing yards, he hurt the ‘Canes by catching six passes for 55 yards. Amari Rodgers also caught six passes, but he had 56 yards, while Galloway had four receptions for 74 yards to go along with his two touchdowns.
The Clemson defense did its part, too. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King was held in check for most part. It did break containment for a 56-yard run to set the Hurricanes’ first points—a 42-yard Jose Borregales field goal—but other than that he did very little.
King was just 4-of-12 passing for 37 yards and was sacked three times. The Hurricanes, who came in leading the ACC in total offense and scoring offense, were held to 79 total yards and were 2-for-7 on third down.
The Tigers had 302 total yards in the opening half.
Clemson faced fourth-and-four on its opening drive of the game from the Miami 37. But the Hurricanes were called offside, keeping the drive alive. Two plays later, Lawrence rolled right and threw left to tight end Braden Galloway who had blockers in front as he rumbled for a 24-yard touchdown with 9:50 to go in the first.
It was the exact same play the Tigers used on Miami to score its first touchdown in the 2015 game, that time it was Deshaun Watson finding Jordan Leggett for a 34-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers extend their lead to 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Etienne bounced the play outside and pushed off a defender to go in for a 2-yard touchdown with 14:54 to play in the half.
Clemson was again aided by a Miami penalty. Hurricanes’ safety Amari Carter was called for a late hit and targeting on a Lawrence scramble. A few plays later, Lawrence dumped off a pass to Etienne on third-and-14 and he rumbled to the Miami 2 to set up his own touchdown on the next play.
Etienne’s touchdown capped a 16-play, 89-yard drive that took 7:27 off the clock.
The Tigers had opportunities to extend their lead after Etienne’s touchdown. Frank Ladson dropped a pass that could have been six points and then a holding penalty on the next drive negated an Etienne screen pass that took the ball the Miami 1-yard line. Potter’s field goal attempt a few plays later was partially blocked keeping the score at 14-0.