2019 Recap: Lawrence, Tigers Win Memorable Showdown With Buckeyes
The staff at AllClemson is taking a look back at the 2019 season game-by-game, featuring the highlights, momentum-changing moments and stars. We take a look back at Clemson's thrilling College Football Playoff Fiesta Bowl victory over Ohio State.
The 2019 Fiesta Bowl had it all: two heavyweights with tons of NFL talent, a big rally, a controversial officiating call and two late, memorable drives.
But there could only be one winner in the desert, and it was Clemson that came out on top, 29-23, in one of the best games of the year in all of college football.
The No. 3 Tigers entered the game with question marks from critics about their weak schedule and if they could hold up against a No. 2 Buckeyes squad that had people asking if it was the best in program history.
But Ohio State, despite getting 174 rushing yards from J.K. Dobbins and 320 passing yards from quarterback Justin Fields, wouldn't get a chance to make history in that national title game. Clemson rallied from a 16-0 deficit in the second quarter, and the Tiger defense held Ohio State to 13 points the rest of the way.
Here's how it happened:
It was over when...
Clemson safety Nolan Turner stepped in front of a Justin Fields pass and intercepted the Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist with 37 seconds left. A touchdown and extra point would've won it for the Buckeyes, but instead, Clemson made the final big play and ran out the clock after the turnover.
Play of the game
Lawrence proved he was an effective runner before Clemson's 14th game of 2019, but still, nobody saw this coming against an elite defense. The fleet-footed QB took a snap, delayed his intentions for just a moment to see the defenders' reaction, then went right up the middle. Lawerence juked a defender then outran the rest of the Buckeyes for a 67-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career.
Player of the game
Lawrence posted one of the best performances of his career that night in Glendale, Ariz. Against a defense that had not allowed more than 27 points in a single game all season, the Clemson QB threw for 259 yards while avoiding a stellar pass rush. With star receivers, Tee Higgins banged and Justyn Ross banged up at times during the game, Lawrence had two of his 18 completions go for touchdowns to running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence also rushed for 107 yards and had no turnovers.
What was that?
An overturned ruling that would've led to an Ohio State score in the third quarter will likely ever be forgotten in Buckeye land. Ross made a catch in the third quarter, took a couple of steps and then had the ball knocked out of his hands by Jeff Okudah. It was picked up and returned by Jordan Fuller in what would have given Ohio State the lead, but the replay official ruled that Ross didn't have possession, therefore it was an incomplete pass. Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Buckeye fans had a very hard time letting go of that controversial call.
This was more of a game for the veterans, but defensive tackle Tyler Davis did record four tackles (1 TFL) and an entertaining soundbite.
Stat of the game: 0
The number of sacks by Ohio State defensive end and Heisman finalist Chase Young. While he did get into the backfield at times, Clemson's offensive line utilized a solid game plan and kept the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft from changing the course of the game with a big play.
He said it...
"Everybody kept saying we didn't play nobody, that we blow out teams. Tonight showed what we can do. We showed everybody we got fight in us." — Clemson receiver Tee Higgins