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Top-ranked Clemson makes a lot of noise in an empty stadium in 37-13 win over Wake Forest

Top-ranked Clemson makes a lot of noise in an empty stadium in 37-13 win over Wake Forest

Maybe it was a good thing that fans weren’t allowed into Truist Field on Saturday night.

Top-ranked Clemson, the ACC champions the last five seasons, showed no signs of slowing down or letting up anytime soon as it dominated Wake Forest 37-13 in an empty stadium. Because of COVID-19 pandemic concerns the two teams played on national television in their ACC opener without fans.

The Tigers, who have won two national championships in the last three seasons and were 33-point favorites, trotted out its two sure-fire NFL first-round picks in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne.

They were as good as advertised.

Both are considered Heisman Trophy candidates and Lawrence, a junior, was nearly flawless. He was 22 of 28 passing for 351 yards with one touchdown pass while he ran for two more touchdowns.

Etienne ran the ball 17 times for 102 yards and scored once. Etienne and Lawrence did their damage in less than three quarters. Lawrence was pulled late in the third quarter with the Tigers comfortably ahead 37-3.

Lawrence wound up leading the Tigers on scoring drives in seven of his nine possessions.

The Deacons got their only touchdown late in the game when third-string quarterback Mitch Griffis hit wide receiver Taylor Morin for a short touchdown to make it 37-13.

In the first half, the Tigers scored on five of seven possessions building a 27-0 lead.

Lawrence ran for two short touchdowns and passed for another to tight end J.T. Chalk that gave the Tigers a 24-0 lead.

The Deacons were out-gained on offense in the first half with the Tigers amassing 261 yards. The Deacons managed 100 yards, but couldn’t establish any sort of a running game.

One of the defensive lineman making it difficult for the Deacons was K.J. Henry, who had four tackles which included a sack in the first half. Henry, a redshirt sophomore from Winston-Salem and a former star at West Forsyth, will be one of the key players this season for the Tigers’ defense.

After the Deacons stalled late in the half, the Tigers added a field goal when B.T. Potter easily made a 52-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

The Deacons had a few good plays on offense in the first half. The two times they came closest to scoring was a missed 44-yard field goal by the usually reliable Nick Sciba.

Also, midway through the first half quarterback Sam Hartman hit a wide open A.T. Perry, a redshirt sophomore, who let the ball go right through his hands after getting behind the Clemson secondary.

Hartman was tackled hard on a fourth-down play early in the third quarter and did not return to the game. He got up slowly after the hit by linebacker LaVonta Bentley and when the Deacons got the ball back backup Michael Kern, a redshirt freshman, came in the game.

The Deacons opened the second half with a field goal from Scriba to make it 27-3, but the Tigers took their first possession of the second half to score on an Etienne short touchdown. It was his 57th career touchdown run and it make it 34-3 early in the third quarter. Scriba added a field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers, who racked up 561 yards of offense, have beaten the Deacons 12 in a row and over the last three seasons the Tigers have outscored the Deacons 152-16.

The Deacons will try to regroup at N.C. State on Saturday with another conference game at 8 p.m. that will be televised by the ACC Network.

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@johndellWSJ

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