Fiesta Bowl: Clemson clips Ohio State in College Football Playoff semifinal

Credit: Matthew Stockman

Credit: Matthew Stockman

Clemson rallied twice to top Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night.

Trevor Lawrence drove the Tigers 94 yards for the game-winning touchdown, and Justin Fields was intercepted as Ohio State tried to answer in the final seconds.

After trailing 16-14 at the half, Clemson took the lead midway through the third quarter when Travis Etienne took a screen pass 53 yards for a touchdown.

That capped a 99-yard scoring drive that was kept alive when Cam Brown was called for roughing the Clemson punter.

B.T. Potter’s PAT kick gave the Tigers their 21st straight point after they fell into a 16-0 hole.

The Buckeyes were wobbling at that point, but the defense recovered to force a pair of punts to end the third quarter.

Ohio State appeared to regain the lead in the third quarter when Jordan Fuller returned a fumble for a touchdown, but upon review it was overturned as the play was ruled an incomplete pass.

The offense then took care of it early in the fourth when Justin Fields connected with Chris Olave on a play-action pass on fourth-and-1.

Blake Haubeil’s PAT kick made it 23-21 with 11:46 left.

After getting a stop, Ohio State failed to add to its lead.

Clemson got the ball back at its own 6 with 3:07 on the clock and delivered with almost shocking ease, driving the length of the field in only four plays to take the lead on a shot pass to Etienne, who broke a tackle one tackle right away then ran through a couple of more on his way to the end zone.

The 34-yard pass gave the Tigers the lead with 1:49 to go.

They pushed it to 29-23 when Lawrence scramble and found Tee Higgins in the end zone for a two-point conversion.

Ohio State got the ball back with 1:49 on the clock and two timeouts.

They quickly advanced to the Clemson 23-yard line in seven plays, but Fields’ pass over the middle was intercepted by Nolan Turner to end it.

Fields and Olave seemed to have a miscommunication as Olave broke his route to the outside around the time Fields let the ball go.


Ohio State leads Clemson 16-14 at halftime of the Fiesta Bowl, though the Buckeyes wasted numerous opportunities to have a much larger lead.

Ohio State struck first, taking the opening kickoff and driving 71 yards in 10 plays.

The Buckeyes reached the Clemson 4 but had to settle for a field goal after Justin Fields was unable to connect with Chris Olave on third down.

Blake Haubeil kicked a 21-yard field goal to put Ohio State up 3-0 and assure there would not be a repeat of the last time the Buckeyes and Tigers met in the College Football Playoff. That was a 31-0 drubbing by Clemson.

Fields completed six of seven passes for 64 yards on the first drive.

He didn’t complete a pass the next time the Buckeyes got the ball, but he didn’t have to. After handing the ball to J.K. Dobbins, all the quarterback need to do was watch him cut back, juke the Clemson safety and race 68 yards to the end zone.

Haubeil’s PAT kick gave Ohio State a 10-0 lead with 8:35 on the clock.

Dobbins set up Ohio State’s next score with a 64-yard run on the final play of the first quarter.

That gave the Buckeyes first and goal at the 8, but they were unable to capitalize and had to settle for another Haubeil field goal. He connected from 22 yards to give the Buckeyes a 13-0 lead with 14:11 on the clock.

Almost seven minutes later it was Haubeil again, this time from 34 yards as the Buckeyes again moved the ball but couldn’t finish a drive. This time it was a 14-yard drive that was undone at the end by an illegal procedure penalty and a dropped pass.

The Tigers got on the board on their next drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Travis Etienne, who eluded several defensive players to avoid being thrown for a loss initially.

The drive was kept alive when Ohio State’s Shaun Wade was called for targeting while sacking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence on a third-and-5 that would have resulted in a punt.

Lawrence then furthered the flip in momentum when he ran 67 yards for a touchdown the next time the Tigers got the ball, taking the ball up the middle on a draw and cutting to his left up the sideline before outrunning the Buckeyes’ pursuit.

B.T. Potter’s PAT kick cut Ohio State’s lead to two points after the Buckeyes dominated most of the first half.


Ohio State and Clemson are set to kick off from State Farm Stadium tonight at 8:10 EST.

The second-ranked Buckeyes and third-ranked Tigers spent the past week preparing in unseasonably cold temperatures in Arizona, but the sun came out on game day in the dessert.

>>RELATED: What to know about the game

Among those in attendance are Ohio governor Mike DeWine of Cedarville. He brought with him 10 family members -- including son Brian, who is a Clemson grad and arrived dressed in orange from head to toe.

That is just one local angle for the evening.

»RELATED: Almost famous? Can Ohio State be best Buckeyes ever?

Miamisburg's Josh Myers figures to play a pivotal role for the Ohio State offense against a blitz-happy Clemson defense while Wayne grad Robert "BB" Landers hopes to leave his mark and do what he can to prevent this from being his last game in a Buckeye uniform.

Jackson Carman, a sophomore offensive tackle for Clemson and a Fairfield grad, also figures to be in the spotlight as he will be tasked with containing All-American defensive end Chase Young of the Buckeyes.

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