Travis Etienne sets new Clemson record, The Citadel avoids a shutout
CLEMSON — For 11 years, no one could pass C.J. Spiller: he of the prolific Clemson career, he of the Tigers’ freshman record for touchdowns in a season with 10 in 2006.
Then came Travis Etienne, and as of Saturday, there is a new record.
Etienne, the Tigers’ dominant freshman running back from Jennings, La., tied Spiller’s record in the first quarter of Clemson’s 61-3 drubbing of The Citadel, then broke it in the third.
He now officially has 11 rushing touchdowns for the season and is the Tigers’ leading rusher with one game left on the regular season schedule against South Carolina.
Initially not even certain they would land the lifelong LSU fan, Clemson coaches have been on the receiving end of Etienne’s services week in and week out. Saturday against the Bulldogs, he racked up 62 yards and two scores on eight carries.
Avoiding the shutout
To document the last time The Citadel was shut out in a game would be to go back a full seven years, when the Bulldogs lost to Georgia Southern 20-0 in October of 2010. The Bulldogs came dangerously close to recording their first shutout since and their first under Brent Thompson against Clemson on Saturday, but were able to put together a drive that culminated with a field goal in the fourth quarter. Backup Jordan Black set the stage downfield with a 61-yard pass to wide receiver Raleigh Webb that put the Bulldogs on the 11-yard line. Hoping to score a touchdown, Black was sacked on third down for a loss of eight yards, so instead The Citadel settled for a field goal. Jacob Godek nailed a 30-yarder, his sixth of the year.
Just one catch
Utilizing its triple-option offense The Citadel unsurprisingly turned to its run for the overwhelming majority of Saturday, and as a result, the Bulldogs finished the afternoon with just one reception. It was, however, the 61-yarder from Black to Webb that set the Bulldogs up for their field goal. Starting quarterback Dominique Allen attempted just four passes and was not able to connect on any. Black was one of four.
Military Appreciation Day festivities
Clemson pulled out all the stops for Military Appreciation Day, an afternoon dedicated toward honoring the nation’s military all the way from the pregame festivities through the postgame interviews. Clemson redshirt freshman Alex Dalton had the honor of carrying the American flag as the Tigers ran down the hill before taking on The Citadel to kick things off. Dalton is a safety from Anderson who served in the military from 2007-12. The Tigers also honored first responders and the family of Trooper Daniel Rebman, a South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper who died last month when a pickup truck struck his car from behind while he was on duty. He leaves behind his wife and three young daughters. At halftime, Grammy-award winner and country singer Lee Greenwood sang his classic hit “God Bless the USA” with Clemson’s band, and there appeared to be a coming-home surprise in the stands from an active member of the military.
Bishop England graduate and Charleston native Drew Costa, who walked onto Clemson’s football team at Dabo Swinney’s request during Clemson’s bye week, got his first action with the Tigers on Saturday. Costa was honored with the seniors, meaning he was announced solo and go to run down the hill by himself in front of 80-plus thousand fans before snapping a photo with Swinney. He also got to handle kickoff duties multiple times and even scored his first career points on two extra-point attempts in the third quarter.
Christian Wilkins, the junior defensive lineman, asked Dabo Swinney if he could be honored on Senior Day, meaning Wilkins is considering foregoing his final year of eligibility and heading to the NFL Draft in April. He will graduate in December. When his name was announced, the full-of-life Wilkins was on the receiving end of the loudest roar of the day, then raised his leg into a toe touch stunt before he ran down the hill.
No Mitch Hyatt
Junior offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt did not play Saturday. In his place, Tremayne Anchrum started at left tackle.