No. 2 Clemson knocks out No. 17 BC 27-7 to win division
BOSTON (AP) — At the site of Dabo Swinney’s first victory as the head coach of Clemson 10 years ago, the Tigers earned a milestone victory that shows what a superpower they have become.
Trevor Lawrence threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score and No. 2 Clemson knocked Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown out of the game early on the way to routing the 17th-ranked Eagles 27-7 on Saturday night.
The battle for first-place in the ACC Atlantic Division was not much of a fight. The Tigers (10-0, 7-0, No. 2 CFP) wrapped up a record fourth straight trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game as division champions and kept rolling toward another College Football Playoff appearance.
“This group has kind of made history all year,” said Swinney, who was a little known receivers coach when he was promoted to head coach by Clemson in 2008, and won his first game Nov. 1 in Chestnut Hill.
Now Clemson is among college football’s elite. The current senior class has won 50 games, gone 23-1 in division play and 19-1 on the road.
Boston College (7-3, 4-2, No. 17 CFP) lost Brown on its first possession when the sophomore got off a third-and-9 pass, but was thrown to the turf by star senior defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Athletic trainers attended to Brown on the field and he walked to the sideline on his own. He wasn’t there long before heading to the locker room. In the second quarter, it was announced he would not return.
After the game BC coach Steve Addazio said Brown was hospitalized with an internal injury, but would not give specifics.
Without Brown, BC never threated Clemson’s defense. But the Tigers let the Eagles hang around. BC’s Michael Walker returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown and Clemson stalled a couple times in the red zone. With 260 yards of offense, Clemson led only 13-7 at half.
It took six plays from scrimmage into the second half for the Tigers to build some cushion. Lawrence walked in for a 6-yard TD.
BC backup quarterback EJ Perry was overmatched against one of the best defenses in the country. The sophomore is a better runner than passer, and Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Tanner Muse feasted against a limited attack. Clemson held BC star tailback AJ Dillon to 39 yards on 16 carries.
The Eagles managed 113 total yards and nine first downs.
“This is a tough game to break into,” Addazio said. “End of the fourth quarter, it’s 20-7 without our starting quarterback. You certainly don’t want to play the likes of Clemson and lose your quarterback at the start of the game.”
Lawrence was 29 for 40 for 295 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass in the first quarter to Milan Richard out of the Fridge Formation. With 350-pound defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at fullback and the 315-pound Wilkins at tailback, Trevor Lawrence faked to Wilkins and flipped to Richard on fourth down to put Clemson up 10-7.
“I’m a threat,” said Wilkins, who is from nearby Framingham, Massachusetts. “I’m in the scouting report.”
Clemson: The one nit to pick was the Tigers never got their running game really cranked up, but a 58-yard punt return touchdown by Amari Rodgers early in the fourth quarter eliminated any possibility for drama.
Boston College: The Eagles’ biggest home game in years featured a sellout crowd of 44,500, sprinkled with Clemson orange, and ESPN’s “College GameDay” on campus for the first time since 2009. The crowd started building on campus for the pregame show by 5 a.m ., lining the “Million Dollar Stairs” that connect the upper campus to the area around Alumni Stadium. The Eagles still have a chance to reach eight victories for the first time since 2009 and nine wins since 2008. But they might have to do it with the No. 2 quarterback.
“We have all the faith in (Perry),” BC defensive end Zach Allen said. “I’m excited for EJ.”
One day short of a year ago, Brown blew out his knee against North Carolina State.
The winner of the Clemson-BC games takes home the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy, named after two stars from the 1940 Cotton Bowl pitting the Eagles and Tigers. Trevor Lawrence earned the black leather helmet that goes to the MVP.
Clemson: The Tigers return home to finish the season against Duke and then South Carolina.
“We’re getting to kind of that championship time. Just getting ready to make that push,” said Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow, who set a school record with a catch in 38 consecutive games.
Boston College: The Eagles go to Florida State next week.
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