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CFP Championship Clemson LSU Football

Clemson running back Travis Etienne is tackled by LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton during the first half of the College Football Playoff National Championship Monday night.

NEW ORLEANS — Clemson running back Travis Etienne became the school’s all-time leading rusher Monday night in the 42-25 loss to LSU in the national title game.

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The junior from Jennings, Louisiana, rushed for 78 yards on 15 carries as he passed Raymond Priester (3,996) for first place.

Etienne has rushed for 4,038 yards in three seasons, but it might be a while before the ACC and school leader in rushing touchdowns reflects on his collegiate career.

“Down the road I’ll look back and look at all the things I’ve done in my life,” Etienne said. “Right now, it’s just kind of hard. You’re just too busy focusing on being great in the process and not worrying about the accolades.”

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He’s also got to get over a rare loss for Clemson, which saw its 29-game win streak come to an end against LSU, 42-25. But in the biggest game of the season, and maybe his last at Clemson, some are left wondering if he should’ve had more production.

Etienne scored a third-quarter touchdown on a 3-yard run. It turned out to be his next-to-last carry of the game.

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After putting up 66 yards on 10 carries in the first half, Etienne had four carries on that 50-yard TD drive early in the second half and just a 2-yard loss in his final carry of the game. Meanwhile, quarterback Trevor Lawrence struggled throwing the ball.

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“Not really, it just is what it is at the end of the day,” Etienne said about his lack of carries in the second half. “That one carry, I should’ve taken that one for a touchdown. That’s how I look at it. I could’ve done better with that one carry. I’ll just go back to the drawing board and see what I can do to better myself.”

While he took the high road, it’s still baffling that Clemson ran the ball just 10 times in their 25 second-half plays, and half of those came on that lone third-quarter scoring drive.

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said the playcalling was based on the looks they were getting from LSU, which did a good job disguising what they were doing.

“It hurts. At the end of the day, we got beat,” Etienne said about just the third loss of his collegiate career. No excuses.”

The questions now focus on whether Etienne will be around Clemson next season to add to his prolific numbers or if he’ll head for the NFL.

“I’ll just go home and weigh the pros and cons and make that decision,” Etienne said. “Win or lose, my situation is going to be based off what I believe in as a person.”

The due date for players with college eligibility left is Jan. 20, so he won’t have long to choose his next path.

If he has played his final down with the Tigers, he’ll leave happy with the decision he made to play for Dabo Swinney.

“This has been the best three years of my life,” Etienne said. “Just the best decision I could’ve made for me as a young man. I couldn’t have made a better decision.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io

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