Clemson got all it wanted from Boston College for three quarters, but the second-ranked Tigers eventually pulled away for a 34-7 victory Saturday at Death Valley.
The game was tied entering the fourth quarter, before Clemson outscored the Eagles 27-0 in the final period.
Kelly Bryant and the Clemson offense struggled much of the day, but the Tigers’ running game, led by Travis Etienne, got going late.
Etienne finished with nine carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) rushed for 164 yards in the final quarter, compared to the Boston College (1-3, 0-2) offense which managed 37 yards.
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“Those guys played their tails off and really gave us all we wanted for the majority of the game. A hard-fought game. I knew it would be,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “We ended up wearing them down. It’s a four-quarter game. It’s not a two-quarter game. It’s not a three-quarter game. The game is four quarters for a reason, and we just took it over.”
Clemson took a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run by Kelly Bryant, but that was the only score in the first half.
The Eagles answered late in the third quarter on an AJ Dillon 1-yard run before Clemson took control.
Adam Choice gave Clemson the lead with a 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter before Etienne rumbled 50 yards for a score and a 21-7 advantage.
Bryant’s second touchdown run of the game put the Tigers ahead 27-7 after Alex Spence missed the extra point before Etienne finished the scoring with a 10-yard run.
“What a game. What a fourth quarter,” Swinney said of Etienne. “That’s what you can do when you’ve got depth and you can wear people down. He’s just gaining confidence by the minute.”
Bryant finished 17 of 26 passing for 140 yards and two interceptions. The Tigers finished with 342 rushing yards.
“At the end of the day, to run the ball for 342 yards, you’re going to win a lot of football games that way,” Swinney said.
Star of the game: Etienne: The freshman took the game over with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs and appears to be Clemson’s best option at running back.
Play of the game: With Clemson leading 14-7 and six minutes remaining, Etienne sprinted up the middle for a 50-yard score and a comfortable lead.
Stat of the game: 342-97: Clemson outgained Boston College 342-97 on the ground.
Offensive line struggles: The passing game didn’t put up big numbers, but it wasn’t all Bryant’s fault. The offensive line gave him no time to find receivers down field.
C.J. Fuller in the doghouse: The Clemson running back started the first three games of the season but didn’t get a carry until the third quarter on Saturday. When he got a chance, he fumbled.
Who: Clemson at Virginia Tech
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 30
Where: Lane Stadium; Blacksburg, Va.
Radio: 93.1 FM