For the final regular season game, Clemson rolled north to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. What was once a reasonably competitive game for the Tigers has fallen off recently, and the game was expected to be over early. Eyes clearly on the playoff prize, Clemson wanted to leave no doubt that they clearly belong in the hunt.
Virginia Tech took the touchback on the opening kickoff. The Hokies got a 1st down, but a fumbled snap put them in a big hole they couldn’t dig out of. Amari Rodgers fielded the put at the Tiger 28. Rodgers to a hitch pass on 1st down and Travis Etienne moved the chains. Braden Galloway to a Trevor Lawrence pass for 49 yards to the Tech 13. The Tiger offense sputtered after that, and B.T. Potter punched the 28-yard FG through to give Clemson a 3-0 lead with 9:01 in the 1st quarter.
Tech had a solid drive and got behind the Tiger secondary on a 48-yard pass down to the 4. One the next play, the Hokie running back walked into the end zone. With 4:25 left in the 1st quarter, Tech led 7-0. Etienne picked up 5 on 1st down and Cornell Powell picked up the 1st down to the 38. Etienne picked up a nice gain out to the Hokie 49 after an incomplete pass to Powell. Davis Allen picked up 9 on 2nd down and Etienne bulled his way for the 1st down. Rodgers moved the ball into the red zone. After a short gain by Etienne, Lawrence ran it in from 17 yards out. Clemson led 10-7 with 12 seconds left in the 1st quarter.
At this point in the game, injuries were starting the mount for the Tiger linebacking corps. James Skalski left the game, as did Jake Venables. DT Tyler Davis was also shaken up but returned quickly. Clemson certainly didn’t need of of that. Tech had another good drive but the Tiger defense stiffened, and a personal foul penalty dug the Hokies into a hole they couldn’t get out of. The punt sailed into the end zone and Clemson took over at the 20. After a near-interception and an Etienne run set up 3rd &6, Lawrence tried to connect with Galloway but couldn’t. The punt was returned to midfield.
The Hokies started off with some good running against the Tiger defense, but the drive stalled and they kicked a 54-yard FG to tie the game at 10-10 with 3:52 in the half. Etienne started the Tiger drive with a 15-yard run and then a 2-yard run. Lawrence then ran for the 1st down. Rogers to a hitch pass to move the chains. Lyn-J Dixon picked up 19-yards down to the Hokie 19. He then ran it in to give Clemson the lead 17-10 with 1:06 left in the half. Tech ran out the clock to send it to halftime, after a scare of a Hail Mary where Derion Kendrick tried to intercept the pass, and almost allowed the Tech receiver to get into the end zone.
Clemson took the touchback on the 2nd half kickoff and they went 3 & out. The Hokies didn’t do anything with their possession either, but the punt snap was fumbled and they barely got it away. Clemson took over at the Virginia Tech 48.
Powell picked up a 1st down with a 15-yard catch. On 3rd & 6, Brannon Spector picked up the 1st down. A couple of Etienne runs picked up another first to move the ball inside the 10. A couple of plays later, Lawrence threw an interception in the end zone. The Tiger offense was looking thoroughly uninspired at this point. A penalty pushed the Hokies back, and then they fumbled, giving the Tigers the ball at the 12. A couple of Lawrence runs later, Clemson was up 24-10 with just under 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Tiger defense held the Hokies and Rodgers fielded the punt at the Tiger 30. Looking uninspired again, the Tiger offense went 3 & out. Will Spiers was also have a rather poor night punting the ball. The Hokies got the ball at the Tiger 32. The defense came to the rescue, though, with Kendrick getting a 66-yard scoop & score. Clemson led 31-10 with 1:28 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Hokies moved the chains once and then the Tiger defense forced 4th & 4. The got the sack to give the offense the ball back at the Virginia Tech 49. Lawrence hit Powell in stride but he dropped it, and also pushed off. The Tigers faced 1st & 25. Dixon was stuffed on 1st down. Lawrence then came back to Powell for a 65-yard TD strike. Clemson led 38-10 with 10:16 left. The Hokies had a good drive and got down to the Tiger 5. Nyles Pinckney recovered a fumbled to foil the Hokies again.
Chez Mellusi got loose out to the Tiger 47. He had a couple of other runs, but the Tigers ended up at 4th & 4. Virginia Tech fielded the punt at their 14. The last possessions were relatively uneventful until Darrien Rencher got loose of the middle for 50 yards and a score. With 4 minutes left, the Tigers led 45-10.
Although it looked ugly at times, especially on offense, the Tigers we are able to dispatch the Hokies relatively easily. The kind of play we saw tonight won’t get the job done against Notre Dame, though. Hopefully Skalski will be able to get rested over the next couple of weeks. What are your biggest concerns for the Notre Dame game? Let’s hear them in the comments section below. Check back with us over the next few days for reviews of tonight’s game and previews of the ACC championship game in a couple of weeks. I apologize for the lack of imagery from the game. The wire services didn’t provide any for us. Thanks for stopping by!