It is not what Clemson is about
Even though his team was down 21 points in the fourth quarter, Trevor Lawrence still believed Clemson could pull out the victory over Ohio State in Friday’s Sugar Bowl.
“I mean, that’s just what I do,” the ACC Player of the Year said. “I’m not going to quit, no matter ‑‑ I believed to the very end that we had a chance to win it, even when we were in the red zone, fourth down right there.”
In the end, the Buckeyes were just too much for Clemson, rolling to a 49-28 victory at the Superdome in New Orleans.
But, as Lawrence said, the Tigers fought to the final whistle and never rolled over, though Ohio State was dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage and were popping one big play after another.
“The whole group on offense didn’t quit,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t put a lot of scoring drives together in that second half, but we didn’t quit. I think we moved the ball well.”
Clemson totaled 444 yards of offense, while Lawrence was 33-of-48 for 400 yards and two touchdowns in his final game as a Tiger.
“If you look at it, we threw the ball really well in the passing game, and running game had a few issues here and there. They do a really good job of stacking the box,” Lawrence said. “But I think our receivers played well. Obviously, I missed a few throws and put too many balls on the ground for sure. So that’s something I want to get better at.”
Lawrence fumbled three times, losing one on a drive that could have allowed the Tigers to cut the lead to 14 points late in the third quarter. He also threw an interception in the end zone, but that came late in the game and it was a ball that was ripped out of Amari Rodgers hands.
“I think we prepared really well. We had a good week and a half or so of practice. And you never expect that, obviously,” Lawrence said. “We were confident. We had prepared, like I said.”
Lawrence said the only disappointment they had as an offense is that they could not help out the defense, when it was obvious it was having a bad night. Clemson allowed a bowl-record 639 total yards to the Buckeyes. Quarterback Justin Fields threw for 385 yards and a Sugar Bowl record six touchdowns, while completing 22-of-28 passes.
“But in games like that, there’s been times the defense has had to pick us up. And this was just one of those nights we ‑‑ yeah, we could have used a few more stops for sure, but they kind of needed us to pick them up,” Lawrence said. “And there were a few times we weren’t just playing complementary football for too long. When we’re punting and they’re scoring pretty much every drive for a quarter, it can get out of hand quick.”
It got out of hand really quick in the second quarter. The Clemson offense tallied just 29 yards in the second and did not score, while the defense gave up 229 yards. Ohio State scored touchdowns on five straight possessions in the first half, while building a 35-14 lead.
“We were kind of pulling in two different directions in that sense as far as just ball control. And then, obviously Ohio State played a really good game,” Lawrence said.
The Tigers matched the Buckeyes for points in the second half, but the damage was already done.
“I don’t have any regrets. And, obviously, it sucks to finish like this.”