HIGH-FLYING CLEMSON CONTINUES ACC DOMINANCE, BEATS WAKE 52-3 ON SENIOR DAY FOR 26TH STRAIGHT WIN
- 2019-11-18 12:22:05
CLEMSON, SC – On an emotional Senior Day in Death Valley, the Defending Champs continued their dominance of the ACC on Saturday with a 52-3 rout of Wake Forest, which was ranked No.19 last week. The Tigers set a new school record with their 22nd straight home win, the nation’s longest active streak, and extended their nation-long win streak to 26 games.
It was another fast start for the Tigers on both sides of the ball. After forcing a Wake three-and-out to start the game, Amari Rodgers returned the punt 53 yards to set up the offense with great field position. After a couple runs by Trevor and Travis, Lawrence found Higgins on the third play for a 14-yard touchdown. On the very next play from scrimmage, senior Tanner Muse hauled in his 4th interception of the season to give the offense great field position again. This drive was all Travis Etienne. He rushed for 19, 5, 3 and 14 yards on consecutive plays to put the Tigers up 14-0 just 5 minutes into the game. It would be Etienne’s only score of the game, and he is just one rush TD short of James Conner’s ACC career record for rush TD’s and all-purpose TD’s. Etienne went over 100 yards for the 6th straight game, finishing with 121 yards on 7.6 yards per carry. Interestingly, “Thunder” James Davis was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame at halftime. Etienne broke his Clemson career rush TD record against Wofford a couple weeks ago. Lyn-J Dixon scored his 5th rushing TD of the season as well and had a career-long 55-yard reception.
The star of the game for the Tigers was Tee Higgins, who tied a Clemson record with his hat trick in the first half. Overton had a hat trick a few weeks ago against Boston College, and Higgins repeated the feat. In fact, he would have had 4 touchdowns, but Trevor overthrew him on a deep ball down the seam. Higgins finished with 4 catches for 64 yards including the 3 TD’s. He now leads the team with 8 touchdowns this season. Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers both left the game with minor injuries, but Dabo told us after the game that both will be fine. In their absence, the Tigers’ newest star receivers, freshmen Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata, both scored touchdowns in the same game for the first time. It was the 3rd of the season for each.
Trevor Lawrence continued his stellar play and remarkable efficiency, going 21-27 for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. He is the first Clemson QB ever with at least 3 TD passes in 6 straight games—no other Clemson QB has done it more than 4 straight games—and hasn’t thrown an interception since the first half of the Louisville game. As I tried to tell the critics and skeptics on ESPN for over a month, Trevor Lawrence will be back to playoff form by the end of the season, and he is certainly there now. One of the few negatives of the game was the pressure Wake was able to get on Trevor. The offensive line has done an outstanding job protecting him all season, but he was sacked twice in the first half and barely escaped a couple more.
Once again, Brent Venables and the Tigers’ defense demonstrated why they are arguably the best unit in the nation. Against the No.2 offense in the ACC, they forced 7 three-and-outs and 2 turnovers, holding Wake to just 105 yards of total offense. It was probably their best performance all season, and they should have had their only shutout of the season, but Wake was able to get a cheap field goal after a botched punt by Will Spiers in the 1st quarter. That was also just the second score the Tigers have allowed in the 1st quarter all season. To be fair, Wake was without its top 2 receivers, Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington, and having them would have made an enormous difference. Wake probably would have scored 10-17 points if they had those two, but it was still an incredible performance by the Tigers. They have held all 11 opponents under 300 total yards this season—something that hasn’t been done by any team in at least 13 years! In addition to Tanner Muse’s interception, A.J. Terrell posted his second INT of the season.
The Tigers will have an unusually late bye week to recuperate from their bangs and bruises—particularly Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers—before the big Palmetto Bowl against the Gamecocks, who will also have a bye after losing 30-6 at Texas A&M on Saturday night. The Tigers have completed their second straight undefeated ACC regular season slate and are now 69-4 in the last 73 games. The seniors, who just played their final game in Death Valley and set a new home win streak record, have an opportunity to eclipse last year’s Clemson and Alabama seniors as the winningest class in college football history.
Due to the bye week, we’ll have our Sunday evening teleconference with Dabo on Monday evening. Stay tuned!
CLEMSON HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY
“Today was a great day. Senior Day is always a bittersweet day. It’s always emotional during the course of the week, and we try to manage it the best we can and think about all of the positive things that have happened over the course of the past four or five years. Wake Forest is a good football team. I’m proud of how our guys competed. They show up and prepare well every week. Our staff’s done a great job, and our players have a good focus about them. It’s been a real joy to coach this group and see how they’ve come together and improved.”
On Clemson’s seniors:
“Today was a historic day. For our seniors, they’re the fastest to 52 wins in college football history. They’ve given us great leadership, and a lot of those guys played outstanding football today.”
On the keys to the win:
“I’m super proud of our guys. It’s been an amazing journey with this group. The defense set the tone today. Wake Forest’s offense was averaging around 500 yards of offense entering the game and only had 41 yards passing today. Of course, it was a big loss for them to not have their top two receivers, but they still have a great quarterback and offensive life and a unique offensive scheme. Our guys were locked in all week. I can’t say enough about our preparation. The turnovers were huge for us. We’re playing well on offense. We had a lot of great contributions on special teams, as well. It was a complete game.”
On the Tigers’ overall performance:
“We’re a talented football team, and we can overwhelm our opponents when we get short fields on offense and disrupt the line of scrimmage on defense. I’m proud of our guys. Trevor [Lawrence] was amazing. He threw for a career-high four touchdowns. Tee [Higgins] tied a record with three receiving touchdowns. The ball was spread around. A lot of guys made big plays for us, and we also won the turnover margin. Travis [Etienne] is the first Clemson rusher to have six 100-plus-yard games in a row. That’s a pretty special accomplishment. Lyn-J [Dixon] played well, too. The game ball went to the offensive line. It was just a tremendous performance by everyone. We subbed early in the third quarter and continued to play well. I’m excited about that for our backups to go in and play at a high level like they did.”
On the impact of the fans at Memorial Stadium:
“I really appreciate our crowd. It’s always a sad day to know it’s going to be next year before we play another game here at Memorial Stadium. I was trying to soak it all in before the game today. I have such a great appreciation for all of the fans who give us a great environment and the best gameday experience you could ask for.”
CLEMSON QB TREVOR LAWRENCE
On closing the first half strong:
“I think making the most of our possession is really important and we didn't do that towards the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter. We really wanted to finish the first half on a good note because I thought we came out and played really well, played fast and had some big plays, but there’s some things we have to clean up. We did a really good job of making corrections and then we finished the first half really well and then came out the second half and played well too.”
On targeting Tee Higgins
“On any given night any of those guys can make plays. Tee’s a great player and it’s something you work on at practice and we had a really good week of prep. We knew certain things were gonna be there and all of our receivers can play different positions so we don't know who it’s gonna be all the time but Tee was the guy who got it today and he did a really good job.”
On first half adjustments:
“There were a couple plays where a guy kind of missed his assignment or they had a weird front one time where we missed a guy on the edge. So something like that we just go back up and draw it up and make an adjustment. We did a good job of that and there were at least three plays where I was holding the ball for 4-5 seconds so they did a really good job besides a couple of those plays. One of them was on me in the red zone, I took a sack. I feel like we did a good job coming back from it.”
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, Clemson joined 1944 Army and 1972 Nebraska as the only teams in the AP Poll era to win four consecutive games by 45 or more points.
- Clemson won a sixth straight game by 30 or more points to break a tie with 2013 Florida State for the longest such streak in conference history.
- Including a 63-3 victory against Wake Forest last year, Clemson has outscored Wake Forest, 115-6, across the last two seasons.
- Clemson held Wake Forest to 105 total yards, including only 41 passing yards. Wake Forest entered the game averaging 487.3 total yards per game, including a conference-best 314.1 passing yards per game.
- Clemson recorded 26 first downs to Wake Forest’s five. Clemson’s defense produced more three-and-outs (seven) than Wake Forest’s offense produced first downs (five). Those seven official three-and-outs also don’t include a one-play Wake Forest drive that ended with an interception.
- The five first downs surrendered are Clemson’s fewest since the 2017 Kent State game (five) and the fewest against an ACC opponent since the 2009 Boston College game (four).
- Clemson’s 105 yards allowed were the program’s fewest since allowing 102 to South Carolina State in 2016. It was Clemson’s fewest yards allowed against an FBS and ACC opponent since holding Boston College to 54 total yards in 2009.
- Clemson allowed only 2.06 yards per play (105 yards on 51 plays). It was the lowest yards-per-play average allowed by Clemson since last season at Boston College (1.98).
- Clemson held an 11th straight opponent below 300 yards of total offense to become the first team since the turn of the century to open a season holding opponents below 300 yards in each of the first 11 games. ESPN Stats & Info says it is the first such occurrence in records back to 1996.
- Clemson has now held 14 consecutive opponents to 20 or fewer points for the first time since the 1949-51 seasons under Head Coach Frank Howard.
- Clemson held a ninth consecutive opponent below 200 passing yards for the first time since games 3-11 of the 2008 season.
- Clemson held a sixth consecutive opponent to a completion percentage of 50.0 percent or worse, Clemson's first such streak since a seven-game span including the 1999 season finale and first six games of 2000.
- Clemson outgained Wake Forest in passing yards, 348-41, and produced more passing yards than its opponent in a 14th consecutive game, dating to last season, for the first time since an 18-game streak across the 2015-17 seasons. The 307-yard difference in passing yardage was Clemson’s largest in a single game since a 2017 game against The Citadel (418).
- Clemson reached 50 points in a fourth straight game for the first time in program history.
- Clemson has now scored 45 points in six consecutive games for the first time in school history. The streak matches the 2013 Florida State Seminoles for the longest in ACC history.
- Clemson (505) has now produced the sixth 500-point season in team history, joining the 2018 (664), 2016 (588), 2015 (577), 2012 (533) and 2013 (522) seasons.
- Clemson gained 516 total yards and has now reached 500 yards in six straight games for the first time since October and November of the 2016 season.
- Clemson averaged 7.1 yards per play and reached 7.0 yards per play for a fifth game in a row, surpassing the first four games of 2018 for the program's longest streak on record.
- With five passing touchdowns in the game, Clemson has now thrown three or more touchdowns in six straight games for the first time in school history.
- In addition, Clemson has now rushed for multiple touchdowns in 12 consecutive games for the first time since a 15-game streak across the 2016-17 seasons.
- Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 21-of-27 passes for 272 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His 211.3 pass efficiency rating marks his fourth game this season -- and the sixth of his career -- with a 200.0 or better passer rating.
- Lawrence tied his career high in touchdown passes (four), matching his four touchdown passes at Georgia Tech and at Florida State in 2018.
- Lawrence has now thrown at least three touchdown passes in six consecutive games for the first time in his career, a first in school history. He had already been the first Clemson quarterback to accomplish the feat in five straight games.
- Lawrence has now thrown a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games. His 21-game streak is the longest active streak in the country. (Note: UCF's McKenzie Milton had a 24-game streak prior to suffering an injury in November 2018 that will likely preclude him from playing in 2019).
- With 268 combined passing and rushing yards in the game, Lawrence (6,349) passed Steve Fuller (6,096) for sixth on the school's leaderboard for career total offense.
- Lawrence (5,855) also passed Nealon Greene (5,719) and Cullen Harper (5,762) for fifth on Clemson's career passing yardage leaderboard.
- Running back Travis Etienne rushed 16 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 37 yards.
- With another 100-yard performance, Etienne took sole possession of the school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games by reaching the mark in a sixth straight game, surpassing five-game streaks by Kenny Flowers (1985) and Raymond Priester (1996-97).
- Etienne’s six consecutive 100-yard rushing games moved him into a tie for the eighth-longest streak in ACC history.
- Etienne (16) passed Raymond Priester (15) for sole possession of second on Clemson's all-time leaderboard for career 100-yard rushing games. It pulled him one game shy of Wayne Gallman's school career record of 17 from 2014-16.
- Etienne posted his seventh 100-yard rushing game this season to tie Raymond Priester (seven in 1996) and Kenny Flowers (seven in 1985) for third-most in a season in school history.
- During the game, Etienne (4,535) passed Travis Zachery (4,391) for fifth on Clemson's leaderboard for career all-purpose yards.
- Etienne has now rushed for a touchdown in five straight games for the first time since a six-game streak across the final five games of 2018 and the 2019 season opener. It represents his third career streak of five games or more with a rushing touchdown.
- After setting the school record for rushing yards in a five-game span last week, Etienne (873) broke the school record for rushing yards in a six-game span, passing Terrence Flagler’s 858-yard six-game span in 1986.
- Wide receiver Tee Higgins caught four passes for 64 yards and three touchdowns.
- Higgins recorded the eighth three-touchdown receiving performance in school history, matching Dreher Gaskin (vs. Auburn on Nov. 21, 1953), Tony Horne (vs. Texas-El Paso on Oct. 4, 1997), Rod Gardner (vs. North Carolina on Oct. 21, 2000), DeAndre Hopkins (vs. Ball State on Sept. 8, 2012, and vs. Duke on Nov. 3, 2012), Mike Williams (vs. South Carolina on Nov. 28, 2016) and Diondre Overton (vs. Boston College on Oct. 26, 2019) for the school record in single-game touchdown receptions.
- The receiving touchdowns were Higgins’ 20th, 21st and 22nd of his career, passing Mike Williams (21 from 2013-16) for third-most career touchdown receptions in school history.
- Higgins has now caught a touchdown in three straight games for the first time this season. He caught touchdown passes in five straight games across the final four games of the 2018 season and the 2019 season opener.
- The game was Higgins’ first of the season with multiple touchdown receptions, the fourth such performance of his career. His three touchdown receptions surpassed his career high, set against The Citadel in 2017 and against Florida State and Pitt in 2018.
- During the game, Higgins (2,080) passed Airese Currie (2,030) and Deon Cain (2,040) for 12th on Clemson's career receiving yardage list.
- Clemson opened the scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Higgins on Clemson’s opening drive. It marked Clemson’s sixth straight game scoring on its opening drive.
- Etienne scored Clemson’s second touchdown of the game on its second drive, punctuating the possession with a 14-yard touchdown run, the 51st rushing touchdown of his career.
- On that run, Etienne (330) passed Aaron Hunt (329) for third on Clemson's all-time scoring list. Etienne already stood as Clemson's scoring leader among non-kickers.
- The rushing touchdown moved Etienne past Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (50) for sole possession of the second-most career rushing touchdowns in ACC history, one shy of the record held by Pitt’s James Connor (52).
- Higgins added another 14-yard touchdown reception from Lawrence in the second quarter. He then scored his second touchdown of the quarter -- his third of the day -- on a 30-yard reception from Lawrence 29 seconds later.
- Higgins’ second and third touchdowns were scored with 42 seconds and 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter, respectively. The 29 elapsed seconds were the shortest period of time between touchdowns for a Clemson player since Derrick Hamilton scored 14 seconds apart on touchdown passes from Charlie Whitehurst against Duke in 2003.
- Wide receiver Frank Ladson Jr. recorded his third touchdown reception of the season on a 10-yard pass from Lawrence in the third quarter. It was his first touchdown since the third game of the season at Syracuse.
- Running back Lyn-J Dixon gained 96 all-purpose yards, rushing six times for 34 yards and a touchdown and catching two passes for 62 yards.
- Dixon recorded a career-long 55-yard reception in the third quarter. On the following play, he rushed nine yards into the end zone for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.
- Wide receiver Joseph Ngata recorded his third touchdown reception of the season on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Chase Brice in the fourth quarter.
- With seven touchdowns in the game, Clemson (68) is now two touchdowns shy of recording the fourth 70-touchdown season in school history, which would join the 2018 (90), 2016 (75) and 2015 (71) seasons.
- Safety Tanner Muse added to his single-season career high in interceptions with his fourth interception of the season. It was the seventh of his career.
- Muse later added his second sack of the season, the fourth of his career.
- With Muse’s interception, Clemson produced a takeaway for a sixth consecutive game and for the 14th time in 15 games, dating to 2018.
- Cornerback A.J. Terrell added his second interception of the season in the second quarter. He returned the interception 37 yards to the Wake Forest 30-yard line to set up Lawrence’s 30-yard touchdown to Higgins one play later.
- Clemson has now recorded multiple takeaways in three straight games for the first time since a five-game span across the final three games of 2018 and the first two games of 2019.
- Clemson finished plus-one in the turnover margin and has now won the turnover margin in six consecutive games for the first time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
- Wide receiver Amari Rodgers recorded a season-long 53-yard punt return in the first quarter.
- Punter/kicker Steven Sawicki recorded a career-long 53-yard punt in the quarter.
- Clemson outscored Wake Forest in the first quarter, 14-3. Clemson has now outscored opponents by a 142-10 margin in first quarters this season.
- All of Clemson’s seniors were captains for the contest. Representing the team for the coin toss were tackle Tremayne Anchrum, safety Tanner Muse, offensive lineman Sean Pollard and linebacker Chad Smith.
WITH THE WIN…
- Clemson opened a season 11-0 for the fifth time in program history, joining 11-0 starts in 1948, 1981, 2015 and 2018.
- Clemson won the first 11 games of a season for the third time under Head Coach Dabo Swinney (2015 and 2018). Swinney had already been the first coach in Clemson history to coach the school to multiple 11-0 starts, as legendary coaches Frank Howard and Danny Ford only accomplished the feat once each, in 1948 and 1981, respectively.
- The 2019 Tigers won an 11th game to tie the 1948, 1978, 2012 and 2013 squads for the sixth-most wins in a season in school history.
- Clemson won its 26th consecutive game, dating to the start of the 2018 season, to extend the longest winning streak in school history and second-longest winning streak in ACC history.
- Clemson has now posted only the 22nd winning streak of 26 or more games in major college football history.
- Clemson is now the only team in the country with nine wins against Power Five opponents this season. No other team in the country entered the week with more than six.
- Clemson won its 22nd consecutive home game to break the record for the longest home winning streak in school history, set across the 2013-16 seasons. Clemson's last home loss came on Nov. 12, 2016, against Pitt. The 22-game home winning streak is the nation's longest active home winning streak.
- The 2019 Clemson seniors won their 52nd game in the last four years to move into fourth for the most career victories by a senior class in FBS history. The group joined the 2018 Clemson and Alabama seniors (55 each) and 2017 Alabama seniors (53) as the only senior classes to record at least 52 wins in four years.
- Clemson’s seniors earned their 52nd victory in 55 games, tying the 2018 Alabama seniors for the fastest to 52 wins in FBS history.
- Clemson's 2019 seniors improved to 30-2 in regular season ACC play to match the 2018 seniors (30 from 2015-18) as the winningest class in school history in regular season conference play, one shy of the conference record of 31.
- Clemson finished with an undefeated home record for a third consecutive season, a first under Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
- Clemson has now gone undefeated at home in three straight seasons for the first time since 1981-83, which included a tie in both 1982 and 1983. Clemson's last time posting a perfect home record with no ties in three straight years had been 1939-41, when the program played only two home games a year.
- Clemson won its seventh home game this year to allow the 2019 senior class to tie the school record for most home wins by a senior class, matching the mark set by the 2017 and 2018 seniors (27 each).
- Clemson finished with a perfect regular season ACC record in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a three-season stretch across the 1981-83 seasons.
- Clemson became the second ACC program to post back-to-back 8-0 regular season conference records since the conference moved to an eight-game conference slate in 1992, joining Florida State (1992-94, 1996-97, 1999-2000 and 2013-14).
- Clemson defeated its 21st consecutive ACC opponent, including postseason play, dating to October 2017 against Georgia Tech. The 21st consecutive victory against a conference opponent (including postseason play) is the longest such streak in school history. It was Clemson's 19th straight win in ACC regular season play, one shy of the school-record 20-game streak posted by the 1981-84 Tigers.
- Clemson improved to 67-17-1 all-time against Wake Forest. Clemson's 67 all-time wins against Wake Forest are its second-most against any opponent in school history, trailing the Tigers' 70 wins against South Carolina.
- Clemson won its 11th consecutive game against Wake Forest, dating back to 2009. It marks Clemson's second 11-game winning streak in series history, trailing a 15-game streak from 1977-91. Clemson's 11-game winning streak against Wake Forest is the Tigers' longest active winning streak against an ACC foe.
- Clemson earned a 10th straight home victory against Wake Forest, dating back to 2000. Clemson's last home loss to Wake Forest came in 1998. It marks Clemson's seventh double-digit home winning streak against a single opponent in school history and its second such streak against Wake Forest (16 straight home wins in the series from 1963-91).
- Head Coach Dabo Swinney improved to 11-0 as a head coach against Wake Forest. Wake Forest is one of five ACC schools against whom Swinney is undefeated as head coach, a list that also includes Duke (3-0), Louisville (6-0), Virginia (3-0) and Virginia Tech (5-0).
- Clemson defeated an ACC Atlantic Division opponent for a 14th straight time and for the 34th time in 35 opportunities.
- Clemson has now won 72 of its last 74 games against unranked teams.
- Clemson has now won 76 of its last 78 games when leading at halftime.
- Clemson improved to 97-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
- Clemson now has a 97-2 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.
- Clemson is now 48-0 when scoring first since 2015.
- Clemson is now 47-2 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011.
- Clemson has now recorded a 55-3 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.
- Clemson has now won 79 straight games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).
- Clemson improved to 42-1 since 2015 when outscoring opponents in the "Middle Eight," defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Clemson outscored Wake Forest 14-0 in that time period in the contest.
- Clemson pushed its winning streak in Saturday games to 40 to extend the longest Saturday winning streak in school history. Clemson's current 40-game run of consecutive Saturday victories is the longest active streak in the country.
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