Clemson football is officially back in Death Valley after beating Citadel 49-0 in a completely dominating performance this Saturday afternoon on Sep. 20. With the win, the Tigers now have won the 23 home games in a row and won 17 straight home openers.
In an effort to show unity against social injustice, Clemson had the words “Unity” and “Equality” painted on all four corners of the field. In addition, at the end of the first quarter, the tigers stood along their sideline locked arm in arm to show that they were one team, and that they were in this together, whether it is on the field or off.
Citadel really did not stand a chance against Clemson in today’s match up. The Bulldogs could not produce any offense, as they were going against a wall of star studded Clemson defenders. The Tigers defense only allowed 163 yards total and eight first downs. Every once and a while they would sneak in a 15-yard gain, but most of the game they went three and out.
Freshmen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee caused the Citadel some of their biggest problems in their Death Valley debut. Myles Murphy caused a fumble in the first quarter, allowing veteran James Skalski to scoop the ball up and run it into the endzone. Murphy also had two tackles for a loss and Breese had two tackles, broke up one pass while rushing the quarterback. Jake Venables finished the game with the most tackles, two of which were solo and one was for a loss.
The Tigers were able to start a lot of their drives with really good field positioning. This was a result of either Clemson’s defense forcing Citadel to a three and out and pinning them deep, or because Amari Rodgers or Travis Etienne returned the punt for a big gain. Rodgers had one return for 22 yards and Etienne ran one back for 55 yards. Ladson led the Tigers in receiving yards with 87 yards, three receptions, and two touchdowns. Freshman E.J. Williams also had an impressive game, as he finished with three receptions and 58 receiving yards.
Trevor Lawrence played an almost perfect game. Eight out of his nine passes were completed and he threw for 168-yards. He also threw some beautiful passes to his receiving core. First he snuck the ball right passed a Citadel defender and into Frank Ladson’s hands for the first touchdown of the game. Later on in the first quarter, Lawrence threw a dime 44-yards to Amari Rodgers for another touchdown. And then in the second quarter, Lawrence threw another perfect ball to Ladson. This one being a 54-yard touchdown pass.
A lot of different Clemson running backs were able to get touches this game. As expected, Etienne had the most with eight carries for 68 yards. Unfortunately, Etienne did not pick up the touchdown that he needed to tie Tim Tebow and Kenneth Dixon’s record (38) for number of touchdowns scored. But, there is no doubt that he will break that record this season. Darien Rencher was impressive on the ground today, as he ran with a lot of power and grit which earned him four carries and 28 yards. Chez Mellusi, Lyn-J Dixon, and Demarkus Bowman also got some touches as well.
Most of the starters rode the bench for the second half, as they were up 49 to nothing. And it turns out that there would not be any more points scored by either team for the remainder of the game. D.J. Uiagalelei came into the game early in the second quarter and right away ran the ball in for his first touchdown as a Clemson Tiger. He went on to throw for 75 yards and complete eight out of his eleven passes. Taisun Phommachanh also got a chance to show Clemson fans what he can do at the quarterback position. He did not perform as well as Uiagalelei in his debut in Death Valley, as he only threw for negative one yards and only one out of his five passes were completed.
Ultimately, Citadel tried their best, but their best is not nearly enough to even compete with the Clemson Tigers. At the end of the day, this game was great for Clemson to get a lot of their second, third, and even fourth string players reps and real game experience.