Duke contained No 2-ranked Clemson’s powerful offense for one half but the Tigers took control over the final two quarters.
A pair of Travis Etienne touchdown runs in the third quarter and Trevor Lawrence’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass helped Clemson blow open a close game and beat the Blue Devils 35-6 in ACC football before a crowd of 81,000 at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
Duke (7-4, 3-4) limited Clemson to 195 first-half yards, including just 17 yards rushing, to trail 14-6 at intermission.
But while the Clemson defense stifled Duke in the second half, the Tigers (11-0, 8-0) got their offense going.
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The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first three second-half drives, covering 61, 75 and 79 yards.
Limited to four rushing yards on five first-half carries, Etienne broke free for 20 yards on his first carry of the second half. He closed the drive with a 27-yard touchdown run to give Clemson a 21-6 lead.
Seeking an answer, Duke moved into Clemson territory as quarterback Daniel Jones completed three passes, including a 13-yarder to tight end Daniel Helm.
The Blue Devils had first down at the Clemson 27 when the Tigers held strong. Jones was stopped for a 2-yard loss and wide receiver Johnathan Lloyd dropped a second-down pass. Jones’ third-down pass was tipped at the line and fell incomplete.
Duke kicker Collin Wareham, who booted a pair of first-half field goals, missed from 42 yards and the Blue Devils came up empty.
The Tigers immediately moved 75 yards on six plays with Etienne scoring on a 29-yard touchdown run giving Clemson a 28-6 lead with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
Lawrence’s 10-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Chase at 11:21 of the fourth quarter gave Clemson a 35-6 lead.
Lawrence, a freshman, completed 21 of 38 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Etienne rushed nine times for 81 yards, gaining 77 in the second half.
Jones completed 24 of 43 passes for 158 yards for Duke. He was sacked four times. The Blue Devils finished with a season-low 262 yards of total offense.
Clemson, leading the ACC in total offense at 526.6 yards per game, finished with 459 yards.
Duke controlled Clemson running back Travis Etienne in the first half but he broke free in the third quarter and the Tigers took control of the game.
Etienne’s two third-quarter touchdown runs, covering 27 and 29 yards, extended Clemson’s lead to 28-6.
On the play before Etienne’s 29-yard touchdown run that gave Clemson its 28-6 lead, Duke lost senior linebacker Ben Humphreys to a leg injury. Humphreys fell injured in a non-contact situation. The Blue Devils were already playing without injured linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, an all-ACC pick last season.
While the Tigers got their offense going, Duke’s offense stalled against the Tigers solid defense. Duke gained just 57 yards on three third-quarter drives. Duk
Duke had the ball with a chance to catch Clemson as the second half started but the Blue Devils came up empty and the Tigers added to their lead.
After Duke failed to gain yardage before punting, the Tigers quickly moved 61 yards for a touchdown to lead 21-6.
Clemson gained just 17 yards rushing in the first half. But running back Travis Eitenne topped that on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage in the second half by breaking free for 20 yards into Duke territory.
Trevor Lawrence completed a 7-yard pass to Ariel Rodgers on third down to keep the drive going. On the next play, Etienne’s 27-yard touchdown run extended Clemson’s lead.
Clemson added a touchdown late in the second quarter to take a 14-6 halftime lead over Duke.
Leading 7-6, Clemson moved 68 yards on eight plays and Justyn Ross caught a 19-yard pass for a touchdown with 1:16 to play before halftime.
The touchdown drive came after Duke lost starting linebacker Brandon Hill, a sophomore, to an ejection due to a targeting call. Starting in place of injured all-ACC linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, Hill was penalized while covering a punt for his tackle on Clemson returner Amari Rodgers. Hill’s helmet made contact with Rodgers’ helmet on the play.
Duke replaced Hill with linebacker Koby Quansah, who is playing with a pin holding together a bone he broke in his foot during practice last month.
Despite Clemson’s late scoring drive, Duke’s defense played a solid first half. Clemson produced five 3-and-out drives and was held to one first down on two others.
Clemson averages an ACC-best 526 yards per game. The Tigers had 195 in the first half against Duke. The Tigers have only 17 rushing yards, averaging 1.7 yards per carry.
Trailing Duke 6-0 after the first quarter, Clemson finally got its offense going to start the second quarter.
The Tigers went 75 yards, highlighted by Trevor Lawrence’s 41-yard pass down the sideline to Justyn Ross to the Duke 2. Tavien Feaster’s 2-yard touchdown run gave Clemson a 7-6 lead with 12:44 left in the first half.
A stout defense and effective offense allowed Duke to take a 6-0 lead over Clemson after one quarter.
The Blue Devils defense limited Clemson to one first down over its first three drives, which all resulted in punts. The Tigers did not reach Duke territory over the game’s first 15 minutes.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones completed 9 of his first 15 passes for 75 yards, using mostly quick drops and short routes. Jones did connected with tight end Daniel Helm on one pass downfield for a 37-yard gain.
Duke advanced inside the Clemson 20 on two drives, which resulted in a pair of Collin Wareham field goals for a 6-0 Blue Devils lead.