Clemson Caps Undefeated Regular Season With Fifth-Straight Win Over South Carolina
CLEMSON, S.C. – Completing its seventh undefeated regular season in school history, the No. 2/2 Clemson football team defeated in-state rival South Carolina, 56-35, on a cold and foggy Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. With the win, the Tigers’ fifth straight in the series, Clemson improved to 12-0 overall, while South Carolina moved to 6-5 on the year.
The Tigers posted a season-high 744 yards of offense against the Gamecocks. Trevor Lawrence amassed a career-high 393 passing yards on 27 completions in 36 attempts, including eight straight completions for 106 yards to open the game. His passing yard total was also the program’s highest ever against South Carolina. His favorite targets were Tee Higgins, who totaled 142 yards with a score in six receptions, and Hunter Renfrow, who was on the receiving end of a pair of 20-plus-yard passes on third down to keep two Tiger drives alive. On the ground, Travis Etienne added 150 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, and Adam Choice ran for three scores in just seven carries. Defensively, Isaiah Simmons led the team with seven solo tackles, and J.D. Davis hauled in his first career interception.
The Gamecocks took an initial 7-0 lead on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Jake Bentley to Deebo Samuel, capping the game’s first drive. The Tigers tied it up just over four minutes later with a Choice one-yard rush, and Higgins then hauled in a 22-yard pass from Lawrence as the first quarter was expiring to give Clemson a 14-7 lead.
The second quarter saw both teams go for it on fourth-and-goal, and while South Carolina did not convert, Lawrence pitched it to Christian Wilkins for a one-yard scoring rush that put the Tigers up 21-7. The Gamecocks did, however, score on their ensuing drive when Bentley connected with Kiel Pollard for a 67-yard touchdown reception. Each team scored once more before the quarter ended, with Clemson’s coming in the form of a Choice two-yard rush and South Carolina’s as a Samuel 75-yard pass from Bentley, to bring the halftime score to 28-21 in favor of the Tigers.
Clemson added two more rushing scores in the third quarter, one of two yards by Etienne and the other of 13 yards by Tavien Feaster. The Tiger defense forced another stop on fourth-and-goal to keep the Gamecocks off the board, leaving the score at 42-21 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Choice punctuated a 98-yard drive, Clemson’s longest scoring drive of the year, with a 15-yard rush to open the fourth quarter scoring. South Carolina then added a pair of passing touchdowns, and, with less than a minute remaining on the clock, Etienne barreled seven yards for the game’s last touchdown, bringing the final score to 56-35.
Clemson opens postseason play next Saturday with a matchup against Coastal Division winner Pitt in the ACC Championship. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.