With D.J. Uiagalelei out with an injured shoulder and Taisun Phommachanh out after breaking a bone in his left hand, No. 1 Clemson turned the offense over to backup quarterback Hunter Helms, who led the Tigers on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of their 73-7 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday.
The freshman completed 5-of-7 passes for 74 yards, while throwing two touchdowns, including a seven-yard touchdown to Kobe Pace and a 35-yard pass to Ajou Ajou.
No one was happier for Helms more than starter Trevor Lawrence, who lifted his hands and ran over to congratulate the walk-on when he came over to the sideline.
“That was really fun. That guy works hard,” said Lawrence, who staked Clemson to a 52-7 halftime lead and threw a career-high five touchdown passes. “He is one of the hardest workers on the team. It just shows how hard he works. Being in his position, he is not necessarily expecting to play a ton, but he still knows the offense. He was ready.”
Helms entered the game after Phommachanh injured his left hand in the third quarter.
On his first drive of the afternoon, Helms came up with Clemson’s sixth touchdown pass on a seven-yard throw to Pace. Earlier in the drive, replay overturned a long touchdown pass to Ajou, ruling the freshman’s foot hit the pylon before he caught the pass. The pylon is considered part of the boundary in college football.
But Ajou left no doubt on the next drive, when he caught a pass over the middle, broke two would-be-tackles and rumbled 35 yards for a touchdown.
“Really, we used a lot of the playbook when he went in there, and he was ready,” Lawrence said about Helms. “He knew what to do. He was telling everybody, he was communicating. He did a really good job.
“So, I am just proud of him and I am proud of the way he has worked and has been ready no matter what. He had to hop in there and be ready and he did not let the team down. He played well and did his part. I am just really happy for him.”
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