At first No. 3 Clemson came out mad. Then it got a little complacent and then it finished strong, as it rolled to a 52-17 victory over Pittsburgh Saturday at Death Valley.
In possibly his final home game, Trevor Lawrence completed 26-of-37 passes for 403 yards and two touchdowns, while Cornell Powell, also playing in his last home game, caught six passes for 176 yards and scored on a 43-yard touchdown.
The win was the 28th straight for Clemson at Memorial Stadium, it also meant the seniors became the first class at Death Valley to go all four years undefeated. They finished their careers 27-0 at home.
Clemson’s seniors were the first group of seniors at the FBS level to finish their careers undefeated at home since Boise State’s seniors did it 2010.
While Lawrence and the offense racked up 581 total yards, the defense intercepted Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett four times. The Tigers turned all four turnovers into touchdowns.
The defense held Pitt to 244 total yards, including 14 yards on the ground. In all, the Tigers forced five turnovers. The Tigers also had six sacks and eight tackles for loss. They also held the Panthers to 4-of-16 on third down.
Clemson (8-1, 7-1 ACC) got three of those interceptions in the first quarter, as it built a 31-0 lead in the first quarter. The 31 first-quarter points set a school record.
After Florida State suddenly postponed last week’s game in Tallahassee, Fla., giving the Tigers a weekend they did not want off, especially coming off a loss at Notre Dame on Nov. 7 and a bye week, they took out their frustration against Pitt.
Clemson scored a record 31 first-quarter points thanks to two Trevor Lawrence touchdown passes and three interceptions by the defense. Lawrence, who was seeing his first action in five weeks, completed 17-of-25 passes for 302 yards in the first half as the Tigers took a 38-10 lead into the locker room.
Pitt (5-5, 4-5 ACC) pulled within 38-17 after a Lawrence fumble led to a Pickett touchdown pass with 14:24 to play in the third quarter. But that was as close as the Panthers came, as Clemson added a Travis Etienne touchdown run and a Chez Mellusi score before the 10:48 mark of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Pickett finished his night 22-of-39 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. His four interceptions matched the number of interceptions he threw the entire season coming in. He was also held 80 yards below his season average.
Besides Lawrence’s two touchdown passes, the Tigers also got a two-yard touchdown run from Etienne and a one-yard score from backup Lyn-J Dixon in the first quarter. Kicker B.T. Potter added a 46-yard field goal, as well.
Powell caught a 43-yard touchdown reception on a flea flicker, and later he had a 70-yard reception to set up another score in the second quarter.
On the defensive side, the Tigers got interceptions from freshman Malcolm Greene, Andrew Booth and two from Mario Goodrich, which all led to touchdowns for the Tigers.
Clemson will hit the road next Saturday as it takes on Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va.
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