The last time that Trevor Lawrence played in a College Football Playoff game—a national championship-winning performance—it was the Clemson QB’s strong, accurate arm that helped the Tigers cap off an undefeated season. It was on that night against Alabama, that a slimly built 19-year-old torched one of the best defenses in the country and became the face of college football’s present and future.
Almost a full calendar year later, Lawrence, still sporting his long, blonde locks, spent the majority of his night showcasing another facet of his repertoire, dashing No. 2 Ohio State’s defense not only with his arm, but with his legs.
In No. 3 Clemson’s 29–23 win over Ohio State, Lawrence knifed through the Buckeyes’ defense, running for a career-high 107 yards and one touchdown. He added 259 passing yards and two scores through the air.
His success through both means paid dividends on Clemson’s final drive of the game, when with the ball on Ohio State’s 34-yard-line, Lawrence looked as if he was going to scammer again, tucking the football for a brief second, before throwing a jump pass to his star running back, Travis Etienne.
“Didn’t play great, didn’t look pretty,” Lawrence told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after the game. “Just find a way to get it done.”
Saturday night’s Fiesta Bowl victory certainly didn’t start the way head coach Dabo Swinney would have wanted. With just over seven minutes to play in the second quarter, the Tigers still hadn’t scored and looked uncharacteristically sloppy. But eventually, Lawrence and Etienne helped the Tigers’ offense settle in.
While Etienne finished with only 36 yards rushing, he added 98 receiving yards on three catches, including bursting 53-yards on a screen pass for a third-quarter touchdown and flying past Buckeye defenders for 34 yards in what was the eventual game-winning score with 1:49 to play.
The running back, whose family hails from Jennings, La., will now get a chance to take home another national championship across his home state.
The Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns late in the second quarter and added a third touchdown after the break, to grab a 21–16 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter.
While the Clemson offense sputtered for the remainder of the frame, and the majority of the fourth quarter for that matter, the Tigers’ defense did just enough to limit quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins finished the game with 174 yards and a touchdown, but appeared limited with an injury. And Fields, after throwing only one interception all season, threw for 320 yards and a score, but also tossed two picks, one of which sealed the Tigers’ victory with 37 seconds to play.
When Ohio State took control of the football with 9:54 to go in the fourth quarter leading by two points, it had a chance to ice the game away. But a six-plus minute drive ended up in a short punt and gave Lawrence and Etienne an opportunity to extend the school’s nearly 30-game winning streak.
Lawrence and his offense needed just four plays to go 94 yards and score the eventual game-winning touchdown.
The second play of the drive was an 11-yard run by Clemson’s only 100-yard rusher of the night. The fourth and final play was a 34-yard pass thrown by the man who wears No. 16 to honor Peyton Manning.
Lawrence and his undefeated Tigers will now get a chance to knock off LSU.
The QB who hasn’t lost since high school will get another shot to take home a title.
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