RALEIGH Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney couldnt have been happier with his Tigers 26-14 ACC victory against N.C. State on Thursday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
We cant load up the buses soon enough, said Swinney, whose third-ranked Tigers improved to 3-0 and won their conference opener. I was really impressed with N.C. State and some of the things they did to really create problems for us.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes two in the second half to Martavis Bryant as Clemson pulled away from the stubborn Wolfpack (2-1, 0-1), which might have forced a different outcome had a few breaks gone its way.
The game changed midway through the third quarter with Clemson holding a 13-7 lead. N.C. States Bryan Underwood got loose down the right sideline, appearing to go 83 yards for a touchdown and potentially giving the Wolfpack the lead.
Although a touchdown was signaled, a lone official stood near midfield, signaling that Underwood had stepped out of bounds at the Clemson 47.
As boos cascaded from the stands, the Wolfpack tried to regroup. Three plays later, however, quarterback Pete Thomas fumbled after being sacked by Vic Beasley. It didnt take long for Boyd to find Bryant, hitting him from 30 yards and giving the Tigers a 20-7 lead with 5 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
That wasnt the first dose of bad luck for the Wolfpack. In the first half, cornerback Juston Burris appeared to have intercepted a Boyd pass for a touchdown, but the whistle blew at the last second when Clemson called a timeout.
Boyds second touchdown pass to Bryant was the 79th of his career, moving him into a tie with former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke for second on the ACCs all-time list.
The Tigers looked to be getting off to a fast start on their first possession, but a strong pass N.C. State rush stopped Clemsons first possession. Although Boyd was able to move the Tigers quickly down the field, two sacks one by Wolfpack defensive end Mike Rose, the other by defensive end Art Norman helped stop the drive. It ended with a 49-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro with 9:58 left in the first quarter.
After another Catanzaro field goal this one from 45 yards gave Clemson a 6-0 lead, the Wolfpack began to establish its offense early in the second quarter.
N.C. State drove 92 yards on seven plays on its next possession, getting a 21-yard scoring run by Shadrach Thornton with 11:03 left in the half. A 32-yard pass from Thomas to Thornton on the drives second play pulled the Wolfpack from deep in its territory.
The Tigers got the lead back late in the half when Boyd hit tight end Sam Cooper on an 11-yard scoring pass. That gave Clemson a 13-7 lead at halftime.
While the Tigers dominated most every meaningful statistic in the first quarter, N.C. State got back into it in the second period. By halftime, Clemsons advantage in total yards was only 220-179 and the Tigers edge in time of possession was 16:25 to 13:35.
N.C. States second touchdown came on a 4-yard run by Thomas, capping a 23-play, 84-yard drive. The Wolfpack converted four fourth downs on the drive.
On Sept. 28, the Wolfpack will be at home against Central Michigan, while will host Wake Forest.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less