ATLANTA — Trevor Lawrence brushed off the first interception he has thrown this season and passed for a career-high 404 yards and five touchdowns as No. 1 Clemson overwhelmed Georgia Tech 73-7 on Saturday.
Lawrence completed 24 of 33 passes. All of his scoring passes came in the Tigers’ dominant first half. Clemson led 52-7 at halftime and kept adding to the lead in the second half, even with second- and third- (and maybe fourth-) stringers on the field.
Lawrence left the game after Clemson’s first possession of the second half.
Clemson (5-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) outgained Georgia Tech 671-204. The Tigers compiled an equally lopsided 29-7 advantage in first downs.
The second-longest streak of passes without an interception in ACC history ended late in the first quarter when Zamari Walton picked off a pass by Lawrence.
Under pressure from Georgia Tech’s pass rush, Lawrence overthrew Powell. Walton ended Lawrence’s streak of 367 passes without an interception.
It was Lawrence’s first interception since Oct. 19, 2019 at Louisville. North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson set the ACC record with 379 consecutive passes without an interception from 2018-19.
Otherwise it was one of the best games of Lawrence’s career. His previous high was four touchdown passes. He passed that mark in the first half, connecting for two scoring passes with Amari Rodgers.
Georgia Tech (2-3, 2-2) provided its fans an early thrill when freshman quarterback Jeff Sims threw a 59-yard scoring pass to Jalen Camp in the first quarter for a 7-7 tie. The Yellow Jackets’ upset hopes faded quickly.
Lawrence answered with an 83-yard scoring pass to Rodgers on the Tigers’ next play, and the Yellow Jackets never recovered. The long pass sparked a string of 66 consecutive points scored by the Tigers.
Rodgers had six catches for 161 yards. He also had a 16-yard TD reception.
Sims lost a fumbled shotgun snap to open Georgia Tech’s next possession, his first of two lost fumbles. Sims also threw an interception.
The Tigers took advantage of a Georgia Tech defense which was focused on stopping Travis Etienne and the Clemson running game. Etienne had a 2-yard scoring run in the second quarter to become Clemson’s all-time scoring leader, but most of the scoring was provided by Lawrence’s passes.
Lawrence had a 34-yard scoring pass to tight end Davis Allen and also threw TD passes to Cornell Powell and Frank Ladson.
Nyles Pickney, a 300-pound defensive tackle, had a 1-yard scoring run in a power package. Cez Mellusi added a 5-yard scoring run in the third quarter after Taisun Phommachanh replaced Lawrence.
Georgia Tech’s defense had no better luck against Clemson’s backups. Freshman Hunter Helms threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ajou Ajou and had another scoring drive capped by Kobe Pace’s 7-yard scoring run.
Etienne had 11 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 29 yards.
Clemson: The Tigers showed impressive poise in avoiding a letdown following last week’s much-anticipated win over Miami. Clemson made an impressive case for its No. 1 ranking with the dominant win. Lawrence played like he was compiling a highlight film for his Heisman Trophy campaign.
Georgia Tech: In a game viewed as a measuring stick for the second year of coach Geoff Collins’ program, the results were discouraging. Clemson beat the Yellow Jackets 52-14 to open last season in Collins’ debut, and this loss was more lopsided. After protecting the ball in last week’s win over Louisville, the Yellow Jackets had three turnovers. Sims completed 6 of 13 passes for 81 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
After having all three of its field-goal attempts blocked in last week’s win over then-No. 7 Miami, Clemson fixed the problem on B.T. Potter’s 30-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Clemson returns home to play Syracuse on Saturday.
Georgia Tech plays at Boston College on Saturday.