Clemson Football

Final: Clemson 35, Duke 6

November 17, 2018

Clemson celebrated Military Appreciation in style and after a cold start by the offense in the first half, the Tigers (11-0, 8-0) wrapped up a perfect ACC season with a 35-6 win over Duke (7-4, 3-4) on a chilly night in Death Valley.

Clemson running back, Travis Etienne was limited to just four yards rushing on five carries in the first half, but his huge third quarter performance helped Clemson pull away from Duke. In the third quarter alone, Etienne ripped off three runs of 20 or more yards, two going for scores, his 16th and 17th of the season, tying a Clemson record for touchdowns in a season. He finished the game rushing for 81 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.

Through the air, Trevor Lawrence delivered a solid performance going 21-38 for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

After an exchange of punts to open the action, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones hit a wide-open Daniel Helm for a 37-yard gain setting up the first points of the night. The Blue Devils settled for a field goal from 34 yards out, taking an early lead on the No. 2 Tigers.

Clemson couldn’t answer the Duke drive and punted for the third consecutive drive leading to another Duke field goal and a 6-0 lead with just seconds lift in the first quarter.

Looking for a spark, Clemson found it on a great double-move from Justyn Ross as the freshman-to-freshman connection hooked up for a 41 yard gain as Lawrence delivered a perfect pass to the rangy wideout down to the two-yard line. Tavien Feaster powered into the end zone on the next play giving Clemson a 7-6 advantage and a lead they would never relinquish.

Clemson Sports Talk
Clelin Ferrell brings Duke quarterback Daniel Jones to the ground.

During the Blue Devils’ next drive, senior defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell both got to Jones, forcing another quick punt. Ferrell ended the game picking up his 10.5 sack of the season becoming the first Tiger with double-digit sacks since Carlos Watkins in 2016.

After the Tigers took over deep in their own territory, on a third down pass towards the sidelines, Hunter Renfrow made a diving stab at a reception, bouncing his head off the turf multiple times. Renfrow would be down for a considerable amount of time before being helped off the field and into the locker room. Renfrow didn’ t return and Dabo Swinney will update his status after the game.

Following a handful of missteps, including what looked to be a sure touchdown reception by Derion Kendrick, Clemson finally got back in the end zone. An eight play, 68-yard drive was capped with a 19-yard toss from Lawrence to Ross giving Clemson a 14-6 lead with 1:10 left before the half.

Clemson’s offense mustered just 17 rushing yards in the first half, but after forcing a Duke three-and-out to kick off the second half, it was Etienne’s time to shine. His first carry in the second half went for twenty yards, helping deliver a five play, 61-yard scoring drive. He finished the drive with a 27-yard carry to paydirt, giving Clemson a 21-6 advantage and perhaps, more importantly, some life.

On the Tigers’ next drive, Kendrick made up for his drop earlier in the game making a great catch on a 33-yard completion from Lawrence, moving the football to the Duke thirty-seven. Three plays later, Etienne’s engine continued to run hot and he raced 29 yards for his record-tying 17th touchdown of the season.

The Tiger defense forced another punt from Duke and the offense took advantage putting together their longest drive of the contest moving 79 yards on 13 plays culminating with a touch pass over the top of the defense from Lawrence to T.J. Chase for a 35-6 Clemson lead and the final margin of victory.

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Final: Clemson 35, Duke 6

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