Boston, MA – Clemson secured their fourth consecutive trip to the ACC Championship game as Game Day was in Chestnut Hill for the biggest game for Boston College this decade.
Greg Huegel scored a 30-yard field goal on the opening drive in what was one of the smoothest drives of the game. Boston College’s scoreless response was made worse when MA native Christian Wilkins injured quarterback AJ Brown whom did not return to the game – a major reason why the Eagles were held to 113 total yards and only converted three out of their sixteen third down attempts.
How could a 30-yard field goal drive be considered smooth? Two punt returns for scores (one per team), two Clemson turnovers, two bad snaps by Boston College, and one major missed call characterized a Clemson win filled with interesting moments.
Up three points and facing the backup quarterback, Clemson had a chance to build a comfortable lead early in the cold Boston night – but instead Clemson fans couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief until the fourth quarter.
What started as a normal punt became a close call when Will Spiers’ rugby punt was almost blocked, his punt then grazed TJ Chase before Michael Walker caught the bouncing punt, and finally Walker returned the punt 74 yards to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead.
Facing fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line on their next drive, the Fridge Package I Formation with Wilkins and Lawrence took the field to punch it in – or that’s what the Eagles thought. Tony Elliott’s excellent play call actually had Trevor Lawrence throw a pop pass to Milan Richard off of play action to give Clemson a 10-7 lead that they would never relinquish.
Clemson’s next drive ended in a 23-yard field goal by Greg Huegel, the start of red zone struggles that kept the game mired in a 13-7 lead for the rest of the half.
Boston College’s trick reverse pass was called for intentional grounding because only the player that received the snap can throw the ball away. After a Clemson three and out, Boston College’s 17-yard passing gain was negated by a missed snap for a loss of 32 yards.
What should have been an open and shut drive was kept alive when the referees did not call an apparent punt interference when Amari Rodgers muffed the ball. The Eagles got the ball back on the controversial play, but no points came as a result of the call.
The first half didn’t end without more issues for Clemson, as a 48 yard, 3:30 drive failed to yield points in a frustrating sequence of events. The end of the half signaled the end of Boston College’s momentum, but not the end of Clemson’s frustrations.
After a three play, 64-yard touchdown drive to put Clemson up 20-7, the game remained scoreless until Amari Rodgers returned an early fourth quarter punt 58 yards for the game-securing touchdown to make the final score 27-7.
Trevor Lawrence completed 29 of his 40 passes for 295 yards, a pick, and a score apiece. Etienne was Clemson’s leading rusher with 78 yards on 11 attempts, and Renfrow caught all eight of his targets for 80 yards. Backup EJ Perry completed 12 of 21 passes for 98 yards, while star running back AJ Dillon rushed 16 times for 39 yards for the Eagles.