Throwback Thursday- Clemson vs Syracuse 2018
By: Darby Childress
Though the Clemson Tigers have been dominant the past few seasons in the ACC, the occasional close in conference game does happen. On September 27, 2018, the Tigers were facing the Syracuse Orange in Death Valley, though many expected an easy blow out game, it was a nail-biter down to the last twenty seconds. A few days before the game, head coach Dabo Swinney announced that freshman Trevor Lawrence would be the new starting quarterback for the Tigers. Soon after this, Kelly Bryant announced his transfer from the university. Leaving the Tigers in the capable hands of Trevor Lawrence, the first quarter ended with a 7-6 lead for the Tigers. Things became concerning for the home-teams fans when Syracuse scored ten unanswered points in the second quarter. To make matters worse for Clemson, with five minutes left in the second quarter, Trevor Lawrence was injured on a play and was taken out of the game. A familiar scene, unfortunately for Tiger fans, just a year prior, with seconds left in the second quarter, former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant was injured in the loss against Syracuse and was taken out of the game. Without their starting quarterback, and Kelly Bryant announcing his transfer, an unexpected hero took the field. Chase Brice came into the game and finished off the disappointing first-half. Seemingly back with a vengeance, the Tigers took the field for the second half of the ballgame scoring six points in the second half bringing the score to 16-13 with Syracuse still in the lead. The Clemson Football team, now led by Brice, was not making their situation much easier for themselves in the third quarter with an interception, and a muffed punt return by Amari Rodgers going into the fourth quarter. To open the final quarter of the game, Syracuse capitalized on the turnover and scored bringing them to a lead of ten on the Tigers.
With the Syracuse defense seemingly winding down, the Tigers had their chance to win, and retain the number one seat in the ACC, when Travis Etienne breaks away for a rushingtouchdown bringing the Tigers within three points of tying the ballgame. With just minutes left Syracuse was winning 23-20 when Chase Bryce converted on fourth down with a pass to Tee Higgins. This set Travis Etienne up for the game-winning touchdown that gave the Clemson Tigers the lead with the score being 27-23 with forty-seconds left in the game. Syracuse had a chance to regain the lead, and win the game until Xavier Thomas came up with a sack on first and eighteen with twenty seconds left. With a final tackle, on a fourth-down attempt against Syracuse, the Clemson Tigers narrowly escaped the loss against the in-conference rivals. In the game that still sends chills down the spines of Tiger fans everywhere, Travis Etienne was easily one of the most valuable assets for the team that Saturday with twenty-seven carries for 203 yards, and three touchdowns. With the odds stacked against them, this victory surely went down in Clemson history as one of the most memorable, yet stressful, home games of all-time.