The Clemson Tigers defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons by a score of 52-3 on Saturday evening. With the win, the Tigers improved to 11-0 and Wake Forest fell to 7-3.
Once again, the Tigers were dominant from start to finish. Though many thought of Wake Forest as the second best team in the ACC, the Tigers proved that they are head and shoulders above the competition with the 49 point win.
After forcing Wake Forest to a three and out to start the game, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead after Trevor Lawrence connected with Tee Higgins on a 14-yard slant. Set up by a great punt return by Amari Rodgers, the Tigers found the endzone after just three offensive plays.
On the ensuing offensive play for Wake Forest, quarterback Jamie Newman threw his first pass right into the hands of safety Tanner Muse. Four plays later, Travis Etienne burst through the middle of the offensive line and into the endzone to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
Most of the first half after the second Tigers score was a defensive battle. Surprisingly, the Tiger offensive line was penetrated on several occasions, resulting in two sacks and four tackles for loss in the first half.
After Clemson punter Will Spiers mishandled a snap and put the Demon Deacons in the red zone, the Tigers faced their first moment of adversity of the evening. The defense held strong, forcing Wake Forest to settle for a field goal. The botched snap was one of many tough moments for the redshirt junior Spiers, and one has to wonder just how long they can stick with him as the starter.
As the first half came to a close, the Tigers put together their first touchdown drive since the early Etienne score. After moving the ball into the red zone, Lawrence lobbed a pass to the back corner of the endzone where Higgins jumped over two defenders to haul in the touchdown.
On the following drive, the Demon Deacons looked to get into scoring position with just under a minute left in the half. Looking to connect on a deep ball, Newman threw a 50-50 ball up for his receiver only to have it easily intercepted by AJ Terrell. With 20 seconds remaining in the half, Lawrence connected with Higgins once again to give the Tigers a 31-3 lead entering the half.
The Tigers picked up right where they left off to start the second half as Lawrence led a nine-play, 60-yard drive to give the Tigers a 38-3 lead. Lawrence capped off the drive with a strike to a lunging Frank Ladson in the back of the endzone. With the pass, Lawrence matched his career high with four touchdown passes.
Lawrence continued his streak of outstanding performances with perhaps the best statistical night of his Clemson career. The sophomore superstar compiled 272 passing yards going 21-27 and four touchdowns. His leading receiver, Higgins, had a career night as well, reeling in three of Lawrence’s four touchdown passes.
Though the offense was dominant against the Demon Deacons, the defensive may have been even more impressive. Aside from the aforementioned field goal, the Tigers defense held Wake Forest to no points and just four first downs. The Tigers compiled ten tackles for loss on the night including two from Xavier Thomas and Muse respectively.
The worst news of the night for the Tigers was the injuries of receivers Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross. Rodgers left the game in the first half after coming up lame following a punt return. While Rodgers remained on the sideline throughout the rest of the game, he didn’t have his helmet in hand. Ross left the game late in the second quarter after being tackled awkwardly near the home sideline. Ross was visibly in pain and was held out for the rest of the game. There is no word at this point about the severity of the injuries.
The Tigers will have a week off before they head to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in their final game of the regular season. Though the Gamecocks will come into the matchup at a measly four or five wins, they did manage to knock off the Georgia Bulldogs earlier in the season. With little left to play for themselves, the Gamecocks will come at the Tigers with all they have in front of their home fans on Nov. 30. The Tigers will need to be ready if they want to close out the regular season at 12-0 for a second straight year.