Clemson, SC – Different opponent, same rhythm, and another win for the 2019 Clemson Tigers on senior day.
The weekly onslaught began after Wake Forest went three-and-out on the opening possession. Amari Rodgers continued his miraculous comeback year with a 53-yard punt return that flipped the field. Clemson capitalized on the short field shortly afterwards as Tee Higgins bodied Essang Bassey while snagging a 14-yard slant touchdown from Lawrence.
The next pass was telegraphed from Jamie Newman straight into the waiting hands of senior safety Tanner Muse. It took Travis Etienne four rushes and a total of 44 yards to extend the Tigers’ lead to 14-0, signaling what seemed to be yet another Clemson domination of an outmatched ACC opponent.
The weekly ‘stall’ came earlier than normal, and this week the catalyst was a bobbled punt by Will Spiers late in the first quarter. Clemson and Wake Forest scored a field goal apiece for over a quarter starting from the muffed punt.
It appeared that the Tigers would take an underwhelming 17-3 lead into halftime as the offensive line’s struggles with pass protection stymied scoring opportunities. With about two minutes left in the first half, the Tigers rekindled their spark as a Tee Higgins touchdown capped off an urgent drive by the Tigers. AJ Terrell intercepted Jamie Newman’s deep pass and returned it for 37-yards, setting up another Lawrence-to-Higgins touchdown near the end of the half. 29 seconds eclipsed between the two late Higgins touchdowns, and the last one was a 30-yard score that put Clemson up 31-3 at halftime.
The Tigers kept the ball rolling in the second half by marching down the field for a nine-play, sixty-yard touchdown drive that extended the lead to 38-3. Lawrence’s touchdown pass to Frank Ladson (third of Ladson’s career) was Lawrence’s fourth of the day, which tied his single game record.
Lyn-J Dixon rushed for a nine-yard touchdown on the subsequent drive resulting from a three-and-out; making the score 45-3 in the middle of the third quarter and ushering in the weekly Chase Brice appearance. Chase Brice threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to freshman Joseph Ngata over the middle early in the 4th quarter to make the final score 52-3.
The Clemson senior class only lost one home game in their career, winning 22 consecutive home games to cap their careers. The Tigers held Wake Forest to 105 total yards while compiling 516 total yards of offense. Death Valley won’t see the Tigers play again until 2020, but the 2019 Tigers still have pages left in the storybook.
Personal Note: This is my last home game covering Clemson football for Tiger Time due to graduation (I am working for the rest of the season). This senior class won their 22nd consecutive home game on my 22nd birthday – it has been a privilege to cover the journey of my classmates from the press box.