Clemson opens ACC defense by whipping Wake
Trevor Lawrence ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as No. 1 Clemson opened the season with authority, drilling host Wake Forest 37-13 on Saturday night at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The teams began with an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup as part of revised schedules put in place during the summer after concerns about the coronavirus pandemic put the status of the season in jeopardy.
Lawrence, a quarterback projected by some analysts as the potential top NFL Draft selection in 2021, threw for 351 yards on 22-for-28 passing without an interception.
Lawrence opened the scoring with a 2-yard run to conclude a 92-yard drive. He scored from 1 yard out later in the first quarter. His pass to J.C. Chalk went for a 12-yard touchdown play in the second quarter.
Running back Travis Etienne gained 102 yards on 17 carries for Clemson, which was the national runner-up last season. That included a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He had 94 yards on 15 carries in the first half.
Clemson’s B.T. Potter made first-half field goals from 42 and 52 yards, the latter coming on the last play of the half as the Tigers led 27-0 at halftime. He added a 29-yarder in the third quarter.
It was nearly the third consecutive season that Wake Forest failed to post a touchdown against Clemson. But Taylor Morin caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Mitch Griffis with 2:34 remaining.
The Demon Deacons, who lost an opener for the first time since 2014, scored to cap the first possession of the third quarter on Nick Sciba’s 39-yard field goal. He booted a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, who was making just his second start since an injury in November 2018, completed 11 of 21 passes for 182 yards before leaving with an injury midway through the third quarter.
Trailing 17-0 in the second quarter, Sciba, who set an NCAA record for consecutive made field goals last season, missed from 44 yards out when the kick was partially blocked. The other five first-half possessions for the Demon Deacons ended with punts.
Roster fluctuations are expected after regular testing for coronavirus. Clemson’s opening-game absentees included cornerback Derion Kendrick, defensive end Xavier Thomas and running back Michel Dukes.
The game was to be played without fans based on a state directive, though a handful of Wake Forest parents were in the stadium.
–Field Level Media