CLEMSON, SC – In what was a short night for Trevor Lawrence, the defending national champion Clemson Tigers ran away in dominating fashion from the visiting Charlotte 49ers in front of 81,500 strong inside Memorial Stadium.
What looked to be a 49er scoop-and-score following a Travis Etienne fumble was ruled as Clemson ball, keeping the Tiger’s first drive of the game alive. Trevor Lawrence wasted no time tossing a 58-yard touchdown strike to Tee Higgins on the ensuing play to take an early 7-0 lead.
Following a Benny LeMay carry into Clemson territory, Chris Reynolds forced a ball into double coverage, resulting in a 66-yard interception returned for a Tiger touchdown by senior DB K’Von Wallace.
Charlotte had multiple big plays and potential scoring drives halted by penalties, finishing the night with 11 penalties for 106 yards, their highest total through four weeks. “We still aren’t good enough to shoot ourselves in the foot, turn the ball over, and expect to be in the game against the best team in the country.” Will Healy said following the loss.
Charlotte’s first drive into the red zone stalled on the 7-yard line, resulting in Jonathon Cruz splitting the uprights from 24 yards away, putting the 49ers on the board trailing 31-3.
Clemson would go on to score on all their first-half possessions. Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon both had goal-line plunges to put seven points on the board for the Tigers, extending the lead to 38-3 at halftime.
Chris Reynolds scored the lone touchdown on the night for the 49ers, keeping the option and sprinting around the right side to the endzone late in the third quarter. Charlotte’s run blocking and rushing attack were a bright spot for the 49ers, finishing the night with 153 yards on the ground.
Benny LeMay’s streak of 100+ yard rushing games ends at 5, finishing the night with 81 yards against a stingy Clemson defense. LeMay carried for the most individual yards against the Tigers so far this season, topping Georgia Tech’s Jordan Mason (72).
Top-ranked Clemson ran away with this one early and Dabo Swinney played 111 different players in the victory, a school record.
Games against top-notch programs are helping Charlotte continue to build and get their name out to the world of college football. While it wasn’t the result they wanted, this is a milestone on the journey to putting the 49ers on the map. “Do your job to the best of your ability,” Coach Healy said to his players before the game. “Play unbelievably hard. Nobody in the country with plays more passion, energy, enthusiasm, and positivity than we do.”
- Jacione Fugate led the 49ers in tackles with 9 (8 solo)
- Clemson picked up their 19th straight win dating back to 2017
- Benny LeMay leads C-USA with 432 rushing yards through 4 games
- Alex Highsmith tied Larry Ogunjobi’s single-season school record from 2016 with his fifth sack of the season, Charlotte’s only sack on the night.
- Clemson outgained Charlotte 466 to 216 in total yards.
- Charlotte dominated time of possession, holding the ball for over 34 minutes of play
- Trevor Lawrence completed 7 of his 9 passes for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns
- Marquill Osborne secured his first interception in a Charlotte uniform
- Chris Reynolds completed 6 of his 16 passes for 43 yards and an interception
Scenes for an upcoming Disney film “Safety” - highlighting former Clemson student-athlete Ray Ray McElrathbey - were filmed during halftime. With a lifelike entrance down the hill and a few plays ran, it felt like a game within a game.
Clemson (4-0) heads to Chapel Hill to take on ACC foe North Carolina Tar Heels (2-2). The Tar Heels are 1-3 in the past four match-ups against the Tigers, with their lone victory coming the last time Clemson trekked to Chapel Hill in 2010.
Charlotte returns home to open C-USA play against FAU, September 28th at 3:30 on NFL Network. The 49ers ended Lane Kiffin & co’s bowl game hopes last season with a 56-yard Jonathon Cruz boot with no time remaining.