RALEIGH, N.C. --- Clemson has been looking for someone to step up on offense all season, and Thursday night they got it from a true freshmen in the Tigers’ 31-10 victory at N.C. State’s Carter-Finely Stadium.
Running back James Davis broke through N.C. State’s vaunted defensive line for 143 yards on 12 attempts, scoring two touchdowns. Most of that was done in the second quarter, when he carried the ball 11 times for 115 yards. And most of those yards came off one formation which had Davis sit to the left of Whitehurst and two tight ends set off the line of scrimmage on the right. The freshman tailback had runs of 25, 16, 14 and 12 yards out of the formation.
“We put in during the this week,” he said. “I was a little nervous at first and was afraid I would mess it up, but then it started to come to me and it got easier each time we ran it.”
Davis said the first time he ran it in practice he broke it up the middle for a touchdown.
He might have broken one for a score in the second half Thursday, but he fractured his left wrist on the first play of the third quarter, which ended his evening.
Davis said he expects to miss the Temple game and be back in time for Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.
His 143 yards where the most by a Clemson runner since Woodrow Dantzler rushed for 154 yards at N.C. State on the same date in 2001. It is also the most rushing yards by a Clemson running back since Travis Zachery rushed for 151 against Maryland in 2000.
“James showed tonight, against a talented defense, that he is a difference maker,” said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. “He’s got an extra gear.”
Clemson is one of only two Division 1-A teams to not have lost a fumble this season and are ranked third nationally in fewest penalty yards. Clemson didn’t have any lost fumbles against State Thursday night, but they were penalized nine times for 80 yards.
Junior place kicker Jad Dean is second among ACC scoring leaders with 10.2 points per game and leads all active Division 1-A players with an 86.2 career field goal percentage. Dean was 25-of-29 heading into Thursday’s game with N.C. State. He made 1-of-2 Thursday, missing for the first time less than 50 yards, when his second quarter field goal from 39 yards was wide.
Not this time.
Before Thursday night’s rout of the Wolfpack, seven of the last eight meetings between Clemson and N.C. State have been decided by eight points or less. The lone exception, a 38-6 win by the ‘Pack on a Thursday night in 2002.
N.C. State quarterback Jay Davis had thrown for 200 or more yards in 11 of his 12 games he has played. During that span he has compiled 2,805 yards and 15 touchdowns. Thursday, Clemson held him to 133 yards on 15-of-31 passing with one interception.
Clemson broke out the white tops and purple pants for the first time since last year’s loss at Texas A&M Thursday.
Prior to Thursday night, Clemson wore the white and purple combination one other time against N.C. State and that was in 2001. In that game, Woodrow Dantzler set a school and an ACC record for total yards with 517 in a 45-37 victory. He accounted for six touchdowns – two running and four passing.
Purple has been a good color for Clemson against the Wolfpack. In 1991, former Clemson coach Ken Hatfield brought back the purple color in football when his team donned purple jerseys for the first time since the 1920’s. That year, Clemson beat State 29-19. The ‘Pack was undefeated and ranked No. 10 in the nation prior to the Clemson victory.
Last year, the Tigers defeated N.C. State 26-20 at Death Valley as they wore purple tops with orange bottoms. Charles Bennett ended a last second drive for State with an interception at the goal line to seal the six-point victory.
After Thursday night’s win, Clemson is now 4-0 all-time against N.C. State when they wear some sort of purple.
Clemson reserve defensive end Brandon Cannon was suspended for Thursday night’s game with N.C. State for his part in the Tigers’ brawl with rival South Carolina last year.
Cannon, who has played the last two games on special teams, is the first player from Clemson to be suspended for his actions during last year’s brawl. Seven more players, including Bobby Williamson, Roman Fry, Anthony Waters and Duane Coleman are expected to serve a one-game suspension which was handed down by the ACC offices last December.
Charles Bennett, Charlie Whitehurst and Lionel Richardson were captains for Clemson, while Marcus Hudson, Jay Davis, Tremaine Hall and T.J. Williams were captains for the Wolfpack.
Where have you been?
Bobby Williamson’s second quarter touchdown reception from Charlie Whitehurst was his first touchdown since catching a touchdown pass in the Georgia Tech game of his freshman season in 2002.