Hunter Renfrow, Tee Higgins step up big for Clemson in 34-10 win against South Carolina
COLUMBIA — Ten games passed and Hunter Renfrow still had no touchdowns to his name.
Externally, it seemed a bit perplexing from the Clemson wide receiver. Internally, though, Clemson coaches knew it was a matter of time until his first score of 2017.
“Obviously,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said last month, “Hunter Renfrow just steps up whenever you need something.”
Saturday was no exception.
No. 4 Clemson (No. 3 College Football Playoff) thumped No. 24 South Carolina (CFP) Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium 34-10, where Renfrow played his best game of the season and continued his streak of torching SEC teams.
The redshirt junior receiver from Myrtle Beach appears to have a knack for big-time plays when Clemson needs it most, and if there were ever a time for Renfrow to peak, now would be that stretch for a Tigers team looking to make another College Football Playoff run.
One week after picking up his first touchdown of the season in Game 11 against The Citadel, Renfrow broke loose for two Saturday night against the Gamecocks — one of which went down as the longest touchdown reception of his career in the win. In the first play of the second half, Renfrow zigged and zagged his way through traffic, broke tackles-galore and outpaced every South Carolina defender trying to chase him en route to a 61-yard score that put the Tigers ahead 27-0 about 20 seconds into the second half.
He also scored previously in the second quarter on a 4-yard reception and finished the night with 75 yards on four receptions in front of a rowdy South Carolina crowd that began to file out in droves once the score got out of hand.
“First of all for Hunter, just a very unselfish player ... last week was his first touchdown and you’d never know it,” Scott said. “I thought it was special for him to have two touchdowns here at Williams-Brice. Just his story, him being a walk-on, coming up to Clemson — I think he has a chance to be governor one day.”
Renfrow teamed up with freshman Tee Higgins to pace the Tigers offensively, which gave Clemson two lethal receiving weapons that the Gamecocks struggled to provide answers against for much of the night.
Higgins led Clemson in receiving yards with 84 on just three catches off the bench, making good on his proclamation this time last week that all he needed was a breakout game against The Citadel to get rolling.
“My confidence went up,” Higgins said heading into the matchup with the Gamecocks (8-4). “I’m ready for anything now.”
As Clemson (11-1) continues to charge forward, both Renfrow and Higgins will be vital cogs in a potential College Football Playoff berth should the Tigers first beat Miami in the ACC Championship game next week. They have opposite styles — Renfrow is smaller and grinds out yardage, while Higgins has a lankier frame and makes the flashy snags — which gives Clemson a dose of versatility.
After Renfrow’s 61-yard touchdown, he made his way back to the Clemson bench where he couldn’t help but beam as teammates congratulated him. As for Higgins, he certainly made a grand debut in his first Clemson-South Carolina rivalry series.
“Hopefully I can go in there and do something,” he had said ahead of the matchup. “It’s a freshman’s dream, just the rivalry, but hopefully we can come out with the W.”
The Tigers did, and it was he and Renfrow that shouldered much of that load.