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The Tigers tame and topple the Hurricanes (42-17)

Preview: Miami Hurricanes (3-0, 2-0) vs Clemson Tigers (3-0, 2-0)

Tonight's matchup between the ACC's Miami Hurricanes and Clemson Tigers carries a lot of weight at this point in the season.

The 7th ranked Hurricanes, led by head coach Manny Diaz, are working their way back into prominence, hearkening memories of "The U" from the 1980's through early 2000's. Thanks to team leaders such as quarterback D'Eriq King (736 passing yards, 6 touchdowns without an interception), running back Cam'ron Harris (311 rushing yards, with an 8.2 yards per carry average along with 5 rushing touchdowns), and wide receiver Mark Pope (142 receiving yards), their offense is averaging 43.3 points per game. Combined with a team defense which has been ranked in the nation's top 20 the past 2 years, including the infamous "Turnover Chain", the team plans on having a stronger showing against Clemson in Death Valley, as their last meeting in 2017 (ACC Championship Game) ends up in a 38-3 debacle.

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence (848 passing yards with 7 touchdown passes without an interception), running back and 2-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne (243 rushing yards while averaging 6.2 yards per carry), and Amari Rodgers (206 receiving yards with 3 receiving touchdowns, along with a 17.2 yards per catch average), their offense comes in averaging 42.3 points per game. Likewise, their defense has held a place in the nation's top-20, including this season's 12 points per game average.

Unbeaten teams. One reviving its tradition while the other being a staple in the past 5 runs for the National Championship. All under the lights at Clemson in Death Valley.

Something's got to give.

First half recap: Miami Hurricanes vs Clemson Tigers

Clemson starts with the ball in the first quarter/half.

Methodically, quarterback Trevor Lawrence opens with 6 consecutive completions. Thanks to an offside penalty by the Miami defense which offsets an interception, an 8-yard run by Travis Etienne sets up a 24-yard touchdown pass by Lawrence to Braden Galloway, giving the Tigers the early lead (7-0 with 9:50 in the first quarter) given their 10-play 75-yard drive. The Clemson defense is able to thwart Miami's opening drive (6 plays for 20 yards), including a sack of the Hurricanes' D'Eriq King by Myles Murphy and Baylon Spector, giving the Tigers another first quarter possession. A targeting call against the Hurricanes' Amari Carter leads to a pivotal 15-yard penalty and him being ejected from the game.

Immediately afterward, a key 3rd down completion by Lawrence to Etienne (on a 3rd and 14) for 22 yards sets the Tigers up for a first and goal from the Hurricanes' 2-yard line. On the very next play, a brilliant cross-field move by Etienne leads to a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter (14:54 left in the quarter), capping off a 16-play 99-yard drive over a 7:27 period (in the first and early second quarter). On Miami's ensuing drive, a sack by Clemson's Justin Mascoll (the team's 3rd sack of the first half on D'Eriq King) leads to a 3-and-out by the Hurricanes.

A sack by Miami's Jaelan Phillips combined with a drop by Frank Ladson, Jr on a blown defensive assignment halts Clemson's scoring run (on 2 consecutive possessions). However, another stall (3-and-out) by the Hurricanes' offense gives the Tigers' offense another possession. A key 31-yard reception by Ladson, Jr on a 3rd and 8 puts Clemson in Miami territory (37-yard line). Another 3rd down conversion (a 14-yard reception by Amari Rodgers on a 3rd and 9) keeps the drive going, but B.T. Potter's 37-yard field goal attempt is partially blocked, keeping the Hurricanes in the game.

Miami's offense shows signs of life thanks to a huge 56-yard run on a 3rd and 8 by quarterback D'Eriq King, putting the Hurricanes at the Tigers' 22-yard line. At the 3:53 mark (second quarter), a 42-yard field goal by Jose Borregales gets the 'Canes on the scoreboard, trailing 14-3. The Tigers respond on their next possession with 21-yard reception by Braden Galloway (from Lawrence), and a personal foul penalty by the Miami defense puts them at Hurricanes' 35-yard line. Four plays later, an 11-yard touchdown reception by Galloway gives the Tigers a 21-3 lead, capping off a 6-play 70 yard scoring drive (1:14 in the second quarter). After another stop by the defense, the Tigers close out the quarter (and half) with a drive to the Miami 44-yard line. B.T. Potter's 61-yard field goal attempt is not only blocked by the Hurricanes' Jared Harrison-Hunte, but is scooped up by DJ Ivey for a 48-yard touchdown. An inexplicable play call by Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney gets the 'Canes back into the game, trailing 21-10 at the half (and getting the ball to start the second half).

Clemson's ability to control the clock (21:43 to 8:17) translates to a total offense advantage of 302 to 79 (total yards). While having their ground game limited (19 carries for 58 yards, resulting in a 3.1 yards per carry average), Trevor Lawrence's passing (21 for 29 with 244 yards and 2 touchdowns) paces the Tigers' offense; four players contribute 40 or more receiving yards, led by Brandon Galloway (74 yards and 2 touchdowns), Amari Rodgers (56 yards), Travis Etienne (55 yards and 1 rushing touchdown), and Frank Ladson, Jr. (42 yards).

D'Eriq King provides nearly all of the offense for the 'Canes (4 for 12 with 37 passing yards, along with 44 rushing yards).

Despite the penalty issues by the Hurricanes (10 penalties for 70 yards, including a player ejection, compared to 4 penalties for 40 yards by Clemson), their special teams efforts keep them within a reasonable margin against the Tigers.

Second half recap: Miami Hurricane vs Clemson Tigers

Miami opens the second half with the ball.

The energy from the end of the first half gets put on hold as Clemson's defense forces them to a 3-and-out. A few plays later, on a 3rd and 14, Trevor Lawrence is flushed from the pocket and after a 16-yard run, appears to fumble the football thanks to a perfectly timed hit and strip by Bubba Bolden. After official review, it is ruled a fumble, as the Turnover Chain makes an appearance. On the ensuing possession, Miami's D'Eriq King makes a 15-yard run on a 3rd and 11, getting the 'Canes closer to the Tigers' red zone (at and inside the 20-yard line) but on the very next play, his pass is intercepted by Clemson's Sheidan Jones. While Miami's defense holds, their special teams nearly makes a costly mistake on the punt return; it appears the Hurricanes' punt returner Xavier Restrepo made contact with the ball (kicking it out of bounds), but the officials rule it a touchback, helping them avoid a potential mishap.

After another defensive stand by the Tigers, Travis Etienne swings momentum back in Clemson's favor. His miraculous 72-yard tightrope run down the sidelines concludes with him reaching the end zone, making it a 28-10 lead (7:55 in the third quarter, a one play 72-yard drive). On the next Miami possession, the Hurricanes' 4th and 1 from their 34-yard line is stopped by the Clemson defense. The Tigers' offense moves the ball to the Miami 15-yard line, but the Hurricanes' special teams come up big again, as they block B.T. Potter's 33-yard field goal attempt, their 3rd block of the game (5:20 in the third quarter). Yet again, the Miami offense comes up short, as D'Eriq King is intercepted for the second time in the game, as Derion Kendrick picks him off.

And again, Miami's carelessness strikes.

A targeting penalty on the 'Canes Keontra Smith leads to a second Miami player getting kicked out of the game (as he'll sit the first half of their next game Pittsburgh). This keeps the Clemson drive going, ending in a 3-yard touchdown ramble by Trevor Lawrence, giving the Tigers a 35-10 lead (2:31 in the third quarter).

At the 12:09 mark of the fourth quarter, Miami has a rare big play on offense. D'Eriq King's 42-yard strike to Keyshawn Smith gets the Hurricanes inside the Tigers' 20-yard line (18-yard line); as a result, a gutty 7-yard touchdown run by King on a 4th and goal (at the 8:31 mark of the quarter) cuts the deficit to 35-17. The Clemson response is reflective of their larger performance on offense An early dose of Travis Etienne (a 22-yard reception and an 11-yard run) along with closing out the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Davis Allen, makes it a 42-17 game (4:32 in the fourth quarter).

Kane Patterson's interception (Clemson's 3rd forced turnover of the game) of Miami backup quarterback N'Kosi Perry closes out any hope of Miami scoring, as Clemson earns a win against a top-10 and conference opponent.

Closing notes: Clemson Tigers (4-0, 3-0) defeat the Miami Hurricanes (3-1, 2-1) 42-17

Telling statistics include Clemson's advantage in total offense (550 yards to 210 yards), time of possession (38:35 to 21:25), as well as winning the turnover battle (forcing 3 turnovers to Miami's 1). The Tigers' effectiveness in the ground game (44 carries for 258 yards, resulting in averaging nearly 6 yards per carry) and in the passing game (292 to 121 yards) underscore their larger control of the game. While Miami's special teams makes an impact with 3 blocked field goals, including one returned for a touchdown, the excessive penalties (16 penalties for 139 yards compared to 7 for 75 yards for Clemson) helped undermine their efforts.

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence turns in another solid performance (29 for 41 for 292 passing yards, with 3 passing touchdowns and another 43 yards rushing with a touchdown), and Travis Etienne's all-around efforts (17 carries for 149 yards with with 2 touchdowns - an 8.8 yards per carry average, along with 73 receiving yards) pace the Tigers' attack. Brandon Galloway's 74 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns (on 4 receptions) help seal the deal along with a solid defensive effort.

Miami's D'Eriq King is under constant pressure, resulting in a 12/28 effort with 121 passing yards and 2 interceptions; his 84 rushing yards (with 1 touchdown on 14 carries) essentially carries the team, as the rest of the team carries the ball 11 times for a total of 5 yards. And while the special teams keep them in the game to a degree, as noted earlier, the penalties and related play eventually come back to haunt them.

Miami's next game is at home on October 17th at 12pm EST against the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-2, 2-2). Clemson travels to Atlanta on October 17th to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-2, 2-1) at 12pm EST.

Photo information: all photos are compliments of the ACC Media Portal:

  1. Clemson running back and 2-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne on the move.

  2. Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers makes a play.

  3. Tigers' quarterback Trey Lawrence rolls out on offense. His 292 passing yards and 3 touchdowns pace the offense.

  4. Hurricanes' quarterback D'Eriq King on the run. He accounts for 84 of the team's 89 rushing yards (averaging 6 yards per carry) and adds a touchdown on the ground.

  5. Miami's special teams are one of their few bright spots in the game; they produce 3 blocked field goals, including one returned for a touchdown to keep it close (21-10) at the half.

  6. ESPN Gameday made their way to Death Valley.

  7. Trevor Lawrence and the team make their way via the Tiger Walk.

  8. D'Eriq King during pregame; the Clemson defense contains him as he has 121 passing yards and 2 interceptions.

  9. The Clemson offense celebrates; they outgained the 'Canes 550 to 210 (total yards on offense).

  10. Hurricanes' safety Amari Carter is called for a targeting penalty in the first quarter.

  11. We're taking a guess the players are talking about what they'll do over their end-of-the-semester break.

  12. Miami head coach Manny Diaz shows concern; the team's 16 penalties for 139 yards are part of the team's undoing in their 42-17 loss.


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