NEW ORLEANS – Travis Etienne's return to Louisiana was a mix.
Emotionally, the experience was a roller coaster. He and his family received death threats before the match began on 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 with LSU to close the first half. And an advantage early in the first half of the year evaporated behind a second quarter of 21-point LSU, resulting a 42-25 loss at monday national championship.
Physically, the game slowed and flowed in and out of its favor on Monday night, highlighted by just a handful of first quarter touches (five loads for 22 yards) and a limited amount of breathing space for the LSU defense.
All of this became a hit in the second and middle quarter – triggered by Etienne's second quarter with 29 yards of play at Clemson's sideline – giving him 64 yards in the middle on 10 charges.
In the second half? 14 yards running.
Mentally, memories and reflections of Etienne's creation 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 there. Everyone was able to come back – that day, if I was doing something, my neighbors could beat me to my mother. kept me humble, kept me – made me who I am today, made me appreciate things a little more, thank for life 's opportunities, "said Etienne. "Just being here, many don't have a chance to have it in their lives. I'm grateful, grateful for that. It only helped me with my outlook on life."
Either way, Etienne's return is undeniable, and his first time at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was well-anticipated and not a total wash.
"It is very exciting to know the opportunity I have to go back to my homeland and be able to win a national championship here, which is really great," Etienne told reporters on Saturday. "It's something you couldn't think of, something you couldn't even write in a movie. I can't thank anyone but God for the opportunity I have. Get out, execute, get the most out of my chances."
Etienne did it on Monday night, regardless of the outcome of the game. He was the same as he was all season: great speed-to-power conversion, hard to beat in the first blow, and the "escaped" in the eyes of Orchestra coach Ed Orgeron.
And their numbers and opportunities were more than likely limited because Clemson was playing behind.
Etienne finished the game with only 78 yards running in 15 loads, but became Clemson's all-time leading rusher, passing Raymond Preister (3,966). Etienne's 4,038-yard career makes him the first 4,000-yard runner in the Tigers and the ninth player in ACC history.
"It's amazing to block a guy like that," said Tremayne Anchrum. "He's an amazing player and a very nice guy, and overcoming him in his home state was amazing. It may not have been the result we wanted, but it's an honor and a privilege to block Etienne."
So to say that Etienne's homecoming was a total disappointment would be false. There were marks he left and a name he recorded in the logbooks, and what better place to do it than at home – the same place where he and his family were given "24 hours" to leave.