CLEMSON, S.C. — Should No. 3 Clemson fulfill its championship aspirations this season, prepare to hear plenty about "The Drive."
With new starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence knocked out of the game, reserve Chase Brice — who was about sixth on the depth chart last January — guided a 94-yard, fourth-quarter scoring drive that ended with Travis Etienne's 2-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds and gave the Tigers a 27-23 victory against Syracuse on Saturday.
"I'll never forget this one," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "Some might say it's the fifth game of the year, but it's more than that. I saw a team that didn't quit."
This one was hard to forget, both for the week Clemson (5-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) endured in going from having one too many starting-caliber QBs to having none by the fourth quarter to the game's dramatic finish.
Lawrence, a 6-foot-6 five-star freshman, supplanted senior Kelly Bryant as starter. A day later, Bryant said he was transferring and that he felt he did not get a fair shake at keeping the job.
Then in the second quarter, a shaky Lawrence took hard hit to the head, wobbled to the sidelines and did not return.
Things looked bleak for the Tigers when Eric Dungey's second 1-yard rushing TD put Syracuse up 23-13 with less than 13 minutes left. That's when Clemson put together a pair of touchdown drives to stay unbeaten and avoid a second straight season of being upset by Syracuse.
Etienne answered Dungey's score less than two minutes later with a 26-yard run that cut it to 23-20.
Five minutes later, Clemson embarked on what might turn out to be the season's defining drive.
"I think I'll remember that forever," co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
That was apparent. Brice, a redshirt freshman with eight career passes before Saturday, completed a 20-yard pass to Tee Higgins on fourth-and-6 to keep the drive going. Brice ran for 17 yards to get the Tigers inside the 20. And Etienne carried it across the goal line to send Memorial Stadium into a frenzy.
"They told us someone had to step up," said Etienne, a sophomore who had a career high 203 yards and three TDs. "We all decided it had to be us."
Dungey was sacked twice by freshman Xavier Thomas on Syracuse's final drive. The Orange (4-1, 1-1) were trying for their first 5-0 start since 1987. Dungey finished with two rushing touchdowns. He was 26-of-41 passing for 250 yards and an interception.
Lawrence has concussion-like symptoms, Swinney said. He wanted to return, but the coach told him, "'You don't mess with that."'