NEW ORLEANS – The species back home of Travis Etienne in Louisiana was a mix.
Emotionally, the experience was a roller coaster. He and his family received death threats before the start of Monday.
“One person said we had less than 24 hours to leave Louisiana” Etienne’s mother, Donnetta, told The Greenville News.
His team played a round-trip game with LSU to close the first half. And, an advantage of the first half of the first half evaporated behind a second quarter of 21 LSU points, resulting in a loss of 42-25 in the national championship on Monday.
Physically, the game went in and out of his favor on Monday night, highlighted by only a handful of touches in the first quarter (five carries for 22 yards) and a limited amount of breathing space from the LSU defense.
All of which, became a great success in the second quarter and in the middle, caused by Etienne’s in a second quarter of 29 yards on Clemson’s sideline, giving him 64 yards in half in 10 carries.
In the second half? 14 yards running.
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Mentally, memories and reflections of Etienne’s education in Jennings, Louisiana, embraced his psyche with the bittersweet happiness of nostalgia.
“It’s a very small town. It takes a village to raise a child. I know everyone out there. Everyone could do it: on the day, if I was doing something, my neighbors could hit me until my mother hit me there. She kept me Humble, he kept me – he made me who I am today, he made me appreciate things a little more, appreciate the opportunities in life, “Etienne said. “Just for being here, not many have the opportunity to have that in life. I am grateful, grateful for that. It has simply helped me with my perspective on life.”
Either way you gave it, one thing was undeniable about Etienne’s return, and his first time playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it was well expected and was not a total wash.
“It’s very exciting, just knowing the opportunity I have to return to my home state and possibly win a national championship here, which is really great,” Etienne told reporters on Saturday’s press day. “It’s something you can’t think of, something you can’t even write in a movie. I can’t thank anyone but God for the opportunity I have. Going out, running, making the most of my possibilities.”
Etienne did it on Monday night, regardless of the outcome of the game. He was the same as he had been all season: great conversion from speed to power, difficult to defeat in the first blow and even “the one who escaped”, in the eyes of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.
And their numbers and opportunities were probably reduced because Clemson was playing from behind.
Etienne finished the game with only 78 yards on the ground in 15 carries, but he became Clemson’s all-time leading runner, beating Raymond Preister (3,966). Etienne’s 4,038 the ground-running races make him the first 4,000-yard runner of the Tigers and the ninth player in the history of ACC.
“It’s amazing to block such a guy,” said tackle Tremayne Anchrum. “He is an incredible player and a really dumb guy, and overcoming him in his home state was incredible. It may not have been the result we wanted, but it is an honor and a privilege to block Etienne.”
So, to say that Etienne’s return home was a total disappointment would be false. There were marks he left and a name he recorded in the log books, and what better place to do it than at home: the same place where he and his family had “24 hours” to leave.