CLEMSON, S.C. – Nationally second-ranked Clemson scored two touchdowns in the final 2:54 of the first half to turn a 13-0 margin into a 27-0 halftime lead to help the Tigers cruise to a 48-7 victory over FCS 21st-ranked Furman in the season opener for both schools on Saturday before a crowd of 80,048 at Memorial Stadium.
Freshman Trevor Lawrence threw for 137 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Tigers, while Paladin freshman Darren Grainger connected with Ryan DeLuca on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for Furman's lone score.
Clemson opened the scoring with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kelly Bryant to Amari Rodgers on the Tigers' second possession and then added a pair of Greg Huegel field goals covering 35 and 49 yards to extend the advantage to 13-0 six minutes into the second quarter.
It remained that way until the Tigers benefited from a play review gave them an 18-yard third down conversion pass to their 28. Five plays later Lawrence connected with Cornell Powell for 42 yards to the Furman 12, which he followed up with a six-yard scoring strike to Diondre Overton to help extend the advantage to 21-0 with 2:54 remaining in the half.
The Tigers used their stout defense and timeouts to bottle up the Paladins on the ensuing 40-second possession, capitalizing on a 23-yard punt to move just 38 yards in five plays to make it 27-0 with 1:03 showing on the first half clock.
Clemson tallied two scores in the third quarter to extended it 41-0, and the two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth period, with Furman's capping a four-play, 41-yard drive that netted Grainger's first touchdown pass of his career.
Clemson ran for 254 yards and passed for 277 to finish with 531 yards.
Furman finished with 163 total yards, including 117 rushing. Deon Sanders led the Paladin ground game with four carries for 50 yards, including a career long 45-yard burst in the fourth quarter.
Furman sophomore linebacker Elijah McKoy led all defenders with nine tackles. The Paladins also notched a pair of sacks, getting the first from Chiendu Okonya and a shared sack by Parker Stokes and Adrian Hope.
Furman returns to action on Saturday, September 8, when it travels to face nationally-ranked Elon for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Rhodes Stadium in Elon, N.C.