Defense a problem in first half, Lawrence's absence not

Defense a problem in first half, Lawrence's absence not

Football

Defense a problem in first half, Lawrence's absence not

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All the talk entering top-ranked Clemson’s game against Boston College on Saturday at Death Valley was focused on how the Tigers’ offense would fare with star quarterback Trevor Lawrence sidelined due to COVID-19. But Lawrence’s absence wasn’t really a problem in the first half as freshman signal-caller D.J. Uiagalelei performed well, completing 19 of his 26 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

Clemson’s defense, on the other hand, was a problem in the first two quarters as Boston College took a 28-13 lead into the locker room. The Tigers allowed the Eagles to rack up 209 yards of total offense, 13 first downs and score touchdowns on all three of their trips inside the red zone. Boston College converted four of its six third-down attempts while averaging 7.2 yards per play and 20.1 yards per completion.

The Eagles received the opening kickoff and drove right down the field, capping a four-play, 74-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Phil Jurkovec to Zay Flowers less than two minutes into the game. BC then followed it up on its next possession with a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive in 2:13 that ended in a 2-yard run from David Bailey which gave the Eagles a 14-7 advantage at the 8:41 mark of the first period.

Later in the first half – with Clemson trailing 21-10 after a 97-yard fumble return for a touchdown scored by Brandon Sebastian following a muffed handoff from Uiagalelei to Travis Etienne at BC’s 1-yard line – the Eagles offense regained possession at its 25-yard line with 8:44 remaining in the second quarter, then proceeded to go on a 15-play, 75-yard march down the field for another touchdown that extended their lead to 28-10 with 1:02 left in the half.

On that particular drive, the Tigers were hurt by a BC third-and-12 conversion and a couple of costly penalties – first, a roughing-the-passer call against defensive end Justin Mascoll that negated an interception by safety Nolan Turner, and then an offside penalty on defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney on fourth-and-2 before an apparent Eagles fake field goal attempt.

One play later, CJ Lewis made an outstanding grab in the end zone off a deflected pass from Jurkovec for an 18-yard touchdown that put BC ahead 28-10 with 62 seconds before intermission.

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Third-ranked Clemson returned to the gridiron after three weeks without a game. The Tigers returned with a vengeance and rolled to a 52-17 win over Pitt in their final game of the season at Death Valley. (…)

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