No. 3 Clemson survives NC State in OT thriller
Deshaun Watson hit Artavis Scott with a 10-yard touchdown pass in overtime and Marcus Edmond finished it with an interception in the end zone as No. 3 Clemson beat North Carolina State 24-17 on Saturday.
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked all but done in regulation, but Kyle Bambard’s 33-yard field goal try as time expired was wide right.
“I kind of looked up and I saw it started to sail, then I closed my eyes because I couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins said. “I waited for the crowd to cheer. They messed up because they gave us another chance.”
Clemson took full advantage with Watson’s strike to Scott. Then Edmond reached high to grab a long throw down the middle from NC State’s Ryan Finley and Clemson had escaped with its path to the ACC title game and the College Football Playoffs still all clear.
It wasn’t the prettiest game for Clemson, which gave up 397 yards and turned it over four times — including Watson’s firstever pick six — to the Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1).
This makes it two straight heat-stopping home games for the Tigers, who trailed 36-28 to Louisville before rallying with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes to take that showdown victory.
“It’s about faith and belief,” said Watson, who finished 39 of 52 for 378 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s what we had to do to get the ‘W.”’
Bambard made just one of four field goal attempts, including one that was blocked by Wilkins, all missed opportunities that cost the Wolfpack.
“At the same time, we could’ve stopped them one more time,” North Carolina State cornerback Mike Stevens said. “It’s on the whole team. I’m not pointing fingers.” Stevens started the second-half drama with a 28yard interception return TD after Clemson came out of the half with a 10-3 lead. The Wolfpack tied things at 17-all on Matt Dayes’ 2-yard scoring run with 11:29 to go.
Dayes ended with 106 yards, his fifth 100-yard rushing game in six outings.
Clemson took a big hit early on when running back Wayne Gallman came out, looking woozy and out of it as he headed to the locker room. Gallman, the team’s leading rusher, did not return. Running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Gallman’s prognosis is good.
Receiver Hunter Renfrow, who had six catches in his first game since Sept. 10 because of a broken hand, was hurt in the fourth quarter and came out the rest of the way.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack look like a team on the rise, one of the few the past two season that has been able to take the Tigers down to the wire.
Clemson: The Tigers probably won’t gain much support in the rankings with its tight victory at home. But in the end, it might not matter if they are standing on top of the league with a perfect record.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: As exciting as things were to the 82,104 in Death Valley, the questions poll voters will have are about Clemson’s penchant for turnovers and can the Tigers get away with it in two weeks at Florida State. Don’t be surprised to see the Tigers slip a notch or two when the new Top 25 comes out.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack head to No. 7 Louisville where they are 0-3 all time, including a 30-18 defeat two years ago.
Clemson: The Tigers get the week off before traveling to No. 14 Florida State on Oct. 29. Clemson has won just once (2006) in its past 12 visits to Tallahassee.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State, Saturday in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 24-17 in overtime.