Uiagalelei thrives as No. 1 Clemson escapes vs. Boston College
Freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei passed for 342 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third as No. 1 Clemson survived a scare from Boston College before holding on for a 34-28 victory Saturday afternoon at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
Uiagalelei was making the first start of his career, filling in for three-year starter and Heisman Trophy favorite Trevor Lawrence, who missed the game while in isolation with COVID-19.
Lawrence’s availability for next week’s showdown at Notre Dame remains uncertain.
Uiagalelei was up the task, even if the Tigers’ injury depleted defense wasn’t. Clemson (7-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) was missing three starters off its defense and it showed, particularly early in the game.
But Uiagalelei came up big, completing 30 of 41 passes and running for a 30-yard touchdown in a third-quarter rally that saw the Tigers outgain the Eagles 147-39 and outscore them 13-0. The Tigers took a 32-28 lead with 11:34 remaining and held on from there.
The Tigers’ victory wasn’t secure, however, until freshman defensive tackle Bryan Bresee sacked Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec for a safety with 1:18 left in the game to cap game-ending 24-0 run.
Clemson has won 28 consecutive games against ACC opponents.
Boston College slipped to 4-3, 3-3.
Senior running back Travis Etienne became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher with a 16-yard run on the final play of the third quarter, passing former N.C. State standout Ted Brown, who had 4,602 yards from 1975 to 1978. Etienne has 4,644.
Etienne was productive once again against Boston College, totaling 264 all-purpose yards. He had 84 yards rushing on 20 carries and added 140 yards receiving on seven catches as well as a 40-yard kickoff return.
It took Boston College only four plays to take a 7-0 lead, with Jurkovec tossing to Zay Flowers for an 11-yard touchdown to cap a game-opening, 75-yard drive.
After Etienne evened the score with a 35-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Uiagalelei, the Eagles dominated the rest of the half.
Boston College got a 2-yard run from running back David Bailey, a 97-yard fumble return by cornerback Brandon Sebastian and an 18-yard strike from Jurkovec to wide receiver C.J. Lewis to forge a 28-13 halftime lead.
It marked the first time Clemson had trailed at the half of a regular-season game since a loss to Florida State in 2013.
Jurkovec completed 12 of 24 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns for Boston College.
–Field Level Media