The Clemson Tigers walloped the Charlotte 49ers by a score of 52 to 10 on Saturday night. It didn’t take long for the Tigers to take a commanding lead of the game, jumping out to a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. While Clemson’s starters didn’t see the field for too long, Saturday night was an excellent opportunity for the second and third string players to see some action.
After holding Charlotte to a three and out on their opening drive, the Tigers took over in their own territory. On just the second play of the game, Tee Higgins left two defenders in the dust, and Trevor Lawrence hit him in stride for a 58-yard score. Lawrence finished the night 7-9 passing for 94 yards and two touchdowns in just about one quarter of play.
On the ensuing drive for the 49ers, quarterback Chris Reynolds sent an errant pass right into the lap of Clemson safety K’Von Wallace. Wallace proceeded to race down the sideline for a 66-yard pick-six. The rest of the first half, and the rest of the game for that matter, was more of the same -- total domination in all three phases of the game.
Later in the quarter, Lawrence led one last touchdown drive before giving way to backup Chase Brice. With the score, the Tigers took a 24-0 lead. After taking the reigns early in the second quarter, Brice had himself a solid night, completing five of seven for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps the most exciting touchdown of the night came just before halftime. With Chase Brice under center, Clemson running back Lyn-J Dixon took the ball at the one yard line and attempted to jump over the scrum at the goal line. Halfway through his leap, Dixon’s feet got clipped causing him to front flip into the endzone. Dixon finished the night with 58 yards and a touchdown.
By the time halftime came around, Tiger fans were counting down the minutes until the Disney film “Safety” began recording. Once time expired, the Clemson crowd erupted as Disney’s cameras followed the actors down the hill. After the filming, many Tiger fans headed for the exits with the game already out of hand.
The one minor point of weakness the Tigers showed on Saturday night was their ability to stop the run. Charlotte’s shifty running back Benny LeMay found holes in the Tiger defense several times throughout the night, racking up 81 yards. While LeMay’s success didn;t translate to many points being scored, Brent Venables and the Clemson defense will look to plug the gaps before next week’s matchup against North Carolina.
One of the trademarks of Swinney’s coaching style is his emphasis on getting less experienced players into blowout games. In doing so, players like Joseph Ngata, Taisun Phommachanh, and Michael Dukes saw extended playing time. Ngata, a highly regarded talent in high school, has seen most of his playing time come on special teams thus far. Early in the third quarter, Ngata showed Tiger fans what he’s capable of when Brice connected with him on a 37-yard touchdown pass. Dukes later added his first career rushing touchdown as time winded down in the fourth quarter.
As players further down the depth chart began to get into the game for the Tigers, there were some apparent growing pains. The most notable of the mistakes came from Dabo’s son, Will Swinney. Back to receive a punt, Swinney was in line to take a big hit. Instead of opting for a fair catch, Swinney tried to return the punt. The ball fell through Swinney’s hands, and the 49ers recovered inside the Clemson ten-yard line. Three plays later, Charlotte found the end zone for the first time.
Despite the late mistakes, there was never a doubt about the outcome of Saturday night’s game. The Tigers will look to continue to build on their momentum next week when they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels on the road. After a 2-0 start to the season, the Tar Heels have come up short in back to back close games. Despite the losses, Mack Brown’s Tar Heels should serve to be a formidable opponent to close out Clemson’s September schedule.