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.
Clemson outgained the Panthers 581 total yards to 246 yards and the defense held the Panthers to 16 rushing yards and forced five turnovers.
The Tigers (8-1, 7-1 ACC) took their frustrations from a long hiatus out on Pitt and left no doubt that they deserve their spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
Each week The Clemson Insider awards helmet stickers to Tigers who contributed to the team’s success with outstanding individual effort.
After a COVID-19 diagnosis the junior quarterback had not taken a snap since Oct. 24 against Syracuse. Lawrence picked up where he left off in most likely his final game at Memorial Stadium.
He finished the game 26-of-37 passing for 403 yards and two touchdowns and added three rushes for first downs. Lawrence showcased his superb arm talent with seven passes of 25 yards or more including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Cornell Powell and a 70-yard pass to Powell.
Lawrence moved to 32-1 in his career to tie the program record for wins by a quarterback with Clemson greats Deshaun Watson, Tajh Boyd and Rodney Williams.
The defensive backs
Clemson’s secondary faced a unique test against Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and the absence of safeties Lannden Zanders and Jaylen Phillips as well as cornerbacks Sheridan Jones and Derion Kendrick.
But they stepped up and intercepted four passes including three in the first quarter. Mario Goodrich led the group with two interceptions while Malcom Greene and Andrew Booth each added one. The unit has made significant strides throughout the season despite a rotating cast of characters.
After patiently waiting for his time Powell has emerged as a premier target for the Clemson offense in the second half of this season. He recorded his third straight 100-yard game and second straight game with over 1560 yards receiving.
He was the first Clemson player to record back-to-back 100-yard games since Sammy Watkins in 2013, only three Tigers have achieved the same feat.
Powell caught a career high six passes for 176 yards and a touchdown that included a 48-yard touchdown and a 70-yard reception that set up a Clemson touchdown. The senior has established himself as a deep threat as the Tigers inch closer to the postseason.
James Skalski & Tyler Davis
Linebacker Skalski and defensive tackle Davis returned to play for the first time since Clemson knocked off Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Oct. 17. The two made a major difference in the heart of the defense as they held the Panthers to 14 yards rushing.
Skalski finished the game with six tackles including a tackle for loss while Davis added a tackle for loss and clogged rushing lanes in the trenches.
Rodgers recorded a career high 10 receptions for 93 yards in most likely his final game at Memorial Stadium. He became the first player in Clemson history to catch at least six passes in seven straight games.
The senior wide receiver has earned career highs in nearly every offensive category this season and continues to prove a reliable target for Lawrence.
Clemson returns to action on Saturday as it travels to Blacksburg, Va. to face-off with ACC-foe Virginia Tech.
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