Tigers avoid upset in Raleigh, knock off Pack 26-14 despite lackluster play

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Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports
Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH, NC – The Clemson Tigers laid yet another egg in Carter-Finley Stadium, the second time in two years that a Clemson team ranked in the top ten performed well below expectations in a trip to Raleigh.

However, unlike two years when the 7th-ranked Tigers lost 37-13 to N.C. State, the Tigers didn’t commit critical turnovers or mistakes, and No. 3 Clemson escaped with a desultory 26-14 win over N.C. State in a Thursday night primetime contest.

Clemson quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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was less than crisp, the defense was in bend-but-don’t-break mode most of the night and a disputed call on the sideline in the third quarter all were contributing factors in the game, but it was receiver Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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who atoned for an earlier drop by catching two touchdown passes from Boyd in the second half.

The good news is that Clemson played maybe its worst game in two years, but still won by double digits on the road in the ACC on a night that would have turned into a loss over the past few seasons. Instead, the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC) come away with a victory in the conference opener and have nine days to prepare for a home game against Wake Forest.

Boyd finished the night 24-for-37 for 244 yards and three scores, while Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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caught 10 passes for 96 yards and Bryant added six receptions for 73 yards. Roderick McDowell had 14 carries for 67 yards, while defensive end Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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had three sacks.

Clemson committed no turnovers, while the Pack had a fumble and an interception.

“First of all, we are glad to get that one over with,” Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said. “We can’t load the buses up soon enough. That’s a good football team we just played. Hats off to N.C. State. They fought the entire four quarters. I am really impressed with some of the things they were doing that were creating problems for us. I can’t say enough about them – that team is going to win a bunch of games this year. We are very fortunate to hang in there and find a way to win.”

Swinney said the Tigers achieved their goal of being 3-0 at the end of the night.

“I am proud of our guys,” he said. “The goal is to be 3-0 right now and that is where we are. We have nine more to go. Our formula doesn’t change. We will go back to work. It is good to get a good conference win, a good division win,. I don’t think you learn about your team until you go on the road, especially a place like this, with a passionate fan base. I am really proud of our guys for competing for four quarters.”

The Tigers muddled through the first quarter and part of the second quarter, getting field goals of 49 yards and 45 yards from Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
Gr. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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for a 6-0 lead.

The Pack took the lead its first drive of the second quarter, getting a 21-yard run from Shadrach Thornton, and State led 7-6 at the 11:03 mark of the second quarter.

Both teams traded ineffective drives for much of the rest of the second quarter, but Clemson shuffled its offensive line late in the quarter, moving Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
Gr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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to right tackle, Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
So. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-6, 280
Brooklyn, NY

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to left tackle and bringing in Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 330
Chester, SC

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to play left guard. The move worked as the Tigers marched 56 yards in eight plays and ended when Tajh Boyd hit Sam CooperSam Cooper
RS Jr. Tight End
#86 6-5, 250
Brentwood, TN

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on an 11-yard touchdown pass for a 13-7 lead.

The Tigers struggled through two punts to open the third quarter, but a strange series of events led to Clemson’s second touchdown of the night. Midway through the quarter, N.C. State’s Bryan Underwood raced into the endzone for what looked like an 83-yard touchdown run. However, Underwood was ruled out of bounds at the Clemson 47-yard line. Replays appeared to show that Underwood stayed in bounds, but the play wasn’t reviewable because it was blown dead on the field.

Two plays later, Vic Beasley sacked quarterback Pete Thomas - his second sack of the night – and jarred the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
Gr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

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at the Pack 48-yard line.

Five plays later, Boyd hit a wide-open Martavis Bryant in the corner of the endzone for a 30-yard scoring toss, and Clemson led 20-7 with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Pack drove down the field on the ensuing drive, but State’s normally reliable kicker – Niklas Sade – missed a 48-yard field goal, his first miss in eight tries on the season.

Boyd and the Tigers quickly made the Pack pay when Boyd hit Bryant again – this time from 15 yards out – to give the Tigers a 26-7 lead. Clemson attempted a two-point conversion, but the try failed. On the scoring play, Bryant went up and over the defender to snare the pass, coming down in bounds for his second scoring catch of the night.

Swinney said that he has been proud of the way Bryant has responded after a tough opener against Georgia.

“He had a rough first game,” he said. “Nobody was panicking and he had a great game against South Carolina St. Tonight, he was awesome. He had one bobbled ball on the sideline, but instead of feeling the sideline with his drag technique he was looking up and down.”

The Pack answered with one of the longest drives in recent memory – 23 plays for 84 yards – a drive that ended when Thomas plunged into the endzone from four yards out to make it 26-14.

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson.............  3 10  7  6  - 26       Record: (3-0,1-0)
NC State............  0  7  0  7  - 14       Record: (2-1,0-1)

Scoring Summary:
1st 09:58 CU - CATANZARO 49 yd field goal, 14-43 5:02, CU 3 - ST 0
2nd 14:46 CU - CATANZARO 45 yd field goal, 14-66 3:50, CU 6 - ST 0
    11:03 ST - Thornton,S. 21 yd run (Sade,N. kick), 7-92 3:37, CU 6 - ST 7
    02:23 CU - COOPER 11 yd pass from BOYD (CATANZARO kick), 8-56 2:47, CU 13 - ST 7
3rd 05:25 CU - BRYANT 30 yd pass from BOYD (CATANZARO kick), 5-48 1:27, CU 20 - ST 7
4th 11:27 CU - BRYANT 15 yd pass from BOYD (BOYD rush failed), 10-68 3:28, CU 26 - ST 7
    03:50 ST - Thomas,P. 4 yd run (Sade,N. kick), 23-84 7:32, CU 26 - ST 14

                                     CU       ST
FIRST DOWNS...................       22       18
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   40-171   36-165
PASSING YDS (NET).............      244      213
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  37-24-0  37-20-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   77-415   73-378
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      2-8      0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........      0-0     5-81
Interception Returns-Yards....      1-0      0-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............   5-36.4   6-40.2
Fumbles-Lost..................      0-0      1-1
Penalties-Yards...............     6-45     9-57
Possession Time...............    27:11    32:49
Third-Down Conversions........ 10 of 19  3 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 2   4 of 5
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      3-3      1-1
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     5-23     2-17

RUSHING: Clemson-McDOWELL 14-68; HOWARD 7-45; BOYD 13-38; BROOKS 5-17; S.
WATKINS 1-3. NC State-Underwood,B. 2-54; Thomas,P. 14-30; Shirreffs,B. 4-23;
Thornton,S. 1-21; Smith,R. 3-17; Dayes,M. 6-16; Creecy,T. 6-4.

PASSING: Clemson-BOYD 24-37-0-244. NC State-Thomas,P. 20-36-1-213; TEAM

RECEIVING: Clemson-S. WATKINS 10-96; BRYANT 6-73; HOPPER 4-25; M.
WILLIAMS 1-25; COOPER 1-11; McDOWELL 1-10; SECKINGER 1-4. NC State-Smith,R.
5-51; Underwood,B. 4-35; Payton,Q. 3-26; Valdes-Scant,M. 2-27; Ramos,J. 2-23;
Cherry,B. 2-16; Thornton,S. 1-32; Purvis,T. 1-3.


FUMBLES: Clemson-None. NC State-Thomas,P. 1-1.

Stadium: Carter-Finley         Attendance: 57583
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm   End of Game: 10:56     Total elapsed time: 3:26
Officials: Referee: Jeff Heaser; Umpire: Michael Wooten; Linesman: Joseph Griesser;
Line judge: Richard Misner; Back judge: Paul Vargo; Field judge: Mike Cullin;
Side judge: Michael Triana; Alternate: Jerry Mosley;
Temperature: 71        Wind: ESE 3mph  Weather: Partly Cloudy

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