Clemson, SC– The world was different in 2006 – iPhones didn’t exist, Charlotte football was just an idea, Dabo Swinney was a little known receivers coach, and Clemson could have easily dropped a game to an outmatched G-5 opponent.
Another incredible story happened in 2006 – Clemson player Ray Ray McElrathbey was a Clemson football player who was raising his eleven-year old brother due to hardship. In a full circle moment, a movie based on that period was filmed during halftime of the Charlotte game.
If a time traveler said that Clemson with Coach Swinney would be the premier dynasty in college football, computers would be in our pockets as phones, and Charlotte had football – no one would have believed it.
No throwbacks to 2006 football would happen tonight, as Clemson jumped out to a commanding lead against their outmatched opponents. Eighty-five seconds in, Clemson scored on a 58 yard pass from Lawrence to Tee Higgins that calmed Tiger fan’s fears about Lawrence’s slow start.
Eager to make their mark on the game, Clemson’s defense scored next as K’Von Wallace scored on a 66-yard pick six. He displayed the short term memory of a defensive back, recovering from a dropped interception a few plays earlier.
Lawrence only had to play for one quarter and one play in the second quarter to leave his mark on the game. His last play of the game was a two-yard score to Cornell Powel that put the Tigers up 24-0 and Chase Brice in the game for good. Lyn-J Dixon impersonated Cam Newton with a one-yard flip touchdown rush to put the Tigers up 38-3 at halftime.
The only blemish of the half was a drive that contained two senseless personal fouls and ended with a 24-yard field goal for Jonathan Cruz late in the second quarter. Clemson’s tackling and run defense in the first half was suspect, but nothing to worry about as the heavily favored Tigers took care of business.
The second half was a slow march towards the inevitable Clemson victory. Chase Brice threw a 37-yard score to freshman Joseph Ngata for his first career touchdown in the middle of the third quarter.
Exit Chase Brice, enter Taisun Phommachanh.
Charlotte’s lone break was a muffed punt by Drew Swinney near the goal line late in the third quarter. Clemson couldn’t muster their usual goal line heroics and Charlotte scored their first touchdown off a quarterback keeper.
In a game known for upsets, Clemson has consistently ‘chalked’ their schedule – winning the games they should win, how they should win them. Speaking of chalk, Vegas nailed this perfectly. Clemson was favored by 41.5 and won by 42, the over/under was 61.5 and the total score was 62. Charlotte is a rising program and Healy is an incredible coach, but they were no match for Clemson’s dynasty. Neither are another hundred-plus teams.