Though it’s been only three years, and we’ve probably seen this game many times because of the on the field heroics of that Saturday, it will never get old.
The 2018 Clemson-Syracuse game was a textbook example of Murphy’s Law in action. In its simplest form, Murphy’s Law states: If anything can go wrong, it will. It almost did.
The entire week, heading into that game, was difficult for everyone involved. Kelly Bryant, after being supplanted by the Tiger’s freshman QB phenom, Trevor Lawrence, abruptly left the team. This led to a media feeding frenzy and all the associated distractions that accompany such things.
Distraction was the big fear that week, even with the heady Lawrence behind center. There was a bigger fear that lurked on that Saturday that few could’ve imagined. However, through adversity, winners find a way to do the improbable. That certainly was the case on that particular day.
The atypical freshman, Trevor Lawrence had a typical freshman rough start. He struggled early against the 4-0 Orange defense that day. Early in the second quarter, Lawrence left the game injured. The ignored fear, the doomsday scenario? Who was the next man up? Enter, Chase Brice.
Eric Dungey and the Syracuse offense had their moments but struggled against the Clemson defense, led by the “Power Rangers.” However, thanks in part to three turnovers, the Orange were leading 23-20 late in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers, facing a daunting 4th and 6 had no choice but to go for the first down. Brice, equal to the moment, hit Tee Higgins for a 20 yard pass to continue the drive. He would then have a 17 yard run to put the Tigers in scoring position.
As the TV commentators were speculating what Dabo Swinney’s Tigers were most likely to do next, field goal or go for the touchdown, Travis Etienne scored on a 2 yard run with :41 seconds left to seal the victory.
Brice, the next man up, had done his job. He kept things moving and the Tigers won. I can still see his face post game, it was beaming.
As you know, the rest is history and the 2018 Tigers would win the national title and do so as the first 15-0 team in the modern era of college football. It was a special year, that was made possible by an improbable situation, handled by the unlikeliest of heroes, the next man up, Brice and all of the 2018 Clemson Tigers.
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