Lawrence leads No. 3 Clemson to 45-10 rout of Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Because Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence isn’t prone to mistakes, the two early interceptions he threw against Louisville were a bit puzzling.
He put both miscues behind him to guide the Tigers to another rout.
Lawrence threw three touchdown passes, Travis Etienne rushed for 192 yards and a score and No. 3 Clemson beat Louisville 45-10 on Saturday for its 22nd consecutive victory.
Darien Rencher and Chez Mellusi added rushing touchdowns for the Tigers (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who missed first-quarter chances to build a big lead when Lawrence was intercepted twice near the goal line.
Lawrence settled down to hit Joseph Ngata and Justyn Ross with second-quarter touchdowns for a 17-3 halftime lead. Both passes were almost in the same spot near the goalpost stanchion, high enough for his receivers to snag over defenders.
Lawrence, who had thrown one interception in his previous three games, said he wanted to “really just show the guys I still got confidence to throw it, and I’m still going to try to make all the throws even though I had made two really bad plays. The guys were confident in me and had my back.”
Lawrence’s 10-yard pass to Cornell Powell made it 31-3, and he finished 20 of 29 for 233 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 47 yards.
Etienne had his most productive rushing game since he ran for a career-high 205 yards against Georgia Tech in the opener.
Dominant as Clemson appeared, coach Dabo Swinney said Louisville made his team work for the win.
“They really played us tough,” Swinney said. “We knew this was a game we were going to have to eventually knock them out because they were not going to give up.”
The Tigers were on point defensively as they posted six sacks and three takeaways and kept Louisville (4-3, 2-2) out of the end zone until Javian Hawkins’ 3-yard TD late in the game. Clemson outgained Louisville 551-263 and improved to 6-0 all-time against the Cardinals.
Hawkins had 129 yards on 26 carries, but Louisville never got closer than 10-3 after winning its previous two games.
“We just didn’t make enough plays,” first-year Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “The bottom line is they out-executed us and we didn’t execute when we needed to. We were not able to get any kind of momentum in that game.”
Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third quarter after punching Louisville’s Trennell Troutman as he lay on the ground. The players tussled as Troutman ran downfield to cover a Louisville punt before Booth threw him to the turf around the Clemson 20.
The scuffle continued and Booth threw a punch with his right hand as he straddled Troutman. Players from both teams swarmed them, and there was more pushing and shoving.
Swinney said he apologized to Satterfield and expressed disappointment in Booth. He added that there “will be consequences” for his player.
“That’s not who we are,” the coach said, “and that’s not who he is.”
After winning the first three meetings by 15 total points, Clemson has won the past three by 26, 61 and 35. ... Etienne has rushed 28 times for 443 yards and three touchdowns in three meetings against Louisville. ... Cardinals quarterbacks Evan Conley and starter Micale Cunningham each were 4 of 11 with an interception.
Clemson will retain its top-five spot with a decisive win after a slow start.
Clemson: After initially looking like they’d have to work to get past Louisville, the Tigers dialed in on both sides of the ball for another blowout since their one-point escape at North Carolina. They rushed for 298 yards and held the Cardinals to just 107 yards passing. The Tigers have scored over 40 points in two straight games.
Louisville: The Cardinals’ hopes of following up their win over Wake Forest with a huge upset never materialized despite hanging in with defense early on. They couldn’t take advantage of those initial interceptions and eventually faded against the ACC’s top defense and one of its best offenses.
Clemson hosts Boston College on Oct. 26.
Louisville hosts Virginia on Oct. 26.
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