CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Adam Choice had a 6-yard tiebreaking touchdown in the fourth quarter and Travis Etienne had two scoring runs in the final six minutes as No. 2 Clemson wore down Boston College in a 34-7 victory Saturday.
The Tigers, who came in off top-15 wins over Auburn and Louisville the last two weeks, were five-touchdown favorites over the Eagles (1-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). But Boston College quieted the large Death Valley crowd on AJ Dillon’s 1-yard TD late in the third quarter to tie the game at 7-all.
Clemson finally got going in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kelly Bryant led the Tigers on a 76-yard drive, capped by Choice’s go-ahead score. The next series, they were at it once more on a 90-yard series and the speedy freshman Etienne burst through the weary Eagles to finally give the Tigers some breathing room. Bryant added a 4-yard TD before Etienne closed the scoring with a 10-yard run.
Clemson (4-0, 2-0) won its seventh straight over the Eagles and opened 4-0 for a third consecutive season.
Bryant ended with 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. It was the second straight game Etienne, a Louisiana recruited wooed heavily by LSU, broke off a long touchdown run after his 81-yard score against Louisville last week.
Boston College’s defense and punter Mike Knoll kept it in the game longer than most figured. Clemson had only 38 yards in the third quarter and Knoll had pinned the Tigers inside the 10 five times.
The effort clearly wore down the Eagles, who were outgained in the final period 213-37.
Boston College: The Eagles looked in for another struggle through the ACC after opening league play with a 34-10 loss at home to Wake Forest, then surrendering 515 rushing yards to fall to Notre Dame 49-20 last week. Boston College looked like it had plenty to grow on from its defensive effort against the powerhouse Tigers.
Clemson: Hold off on awarding the Tigers another ACC trophy and playoff spot. Clemson had averaged nearly 44 points in its seven home contests a year ago, but has managed just seven touchdowns combined in its past two games at Death Valley. Clemson’s offense struggled to get the ball down field and once BC stopped biting on Bryant’s quarterback runs, the Tigers’ attack bogged down until the end- something that must be corrected if they hope for another big postseason.
INJURY BUG: Both Boston College and Clemson played without significant players. The Eagles were minus last year’s leading tackler in linebacker Conner Strachan, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury. They also lost receiver Charlie Callinan with a foot injury. The Tigers were down their national championship kicker in Greg Huegel, who tore a knee ligament at practice this week while Clemson was practicing a two-minute drill. Huegel will have season-ending surgery and backup Alex Spence will take over the Tigers’ kicking chores.
Boston College returns home to face Central Michigan next Saturday.
Clemson goes on the road to play No. 13 Virginia Tech, the Tigers’ third top-15 opponent in four weeks.