No close call this time as Clem­son blasts NC State

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOE GIGLIO [email protected]­sob­

Kelvin Har­mon got be­hind Clem­son’s de­fense.

There was only green grass in front of N.C. State’s star re­ceiver. The throw from quar­ter­back Ryan Fin­ley was on tar­get. The ball hit Har­mon’s hands but he dropped it.

It was that kind of day for the 16th-ranked Wolf­pack.

There were dropped passes, a plethora of pro­ce­dural penal­ties and too many turnovers to over­come. No. 3 Clem­son cashed in all of the er­rors for a 41-7 win on Satur­day, its sev­enth straight win over the Wolf­pack.

This was no re­peat of the close calls for N.C. State (5-1, 2-1 ACC) with the Tigers ( 7-0, 4-0 ACC), like the 24-17 over­time loss here in 2016 and or the 38-31 home loss last year.

Af­ter a 5-0 start against an agree­able sched­ule, N.C. State punched up in weight class and got knocked down by the Tigers, who have won 57 of their last 61 games.

An un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­nity was within N.C. State’s reach. The Wolf­pack couldn’t have won its first ACC ti­tle since 1979 on Satur­day, but it al­most cer­tainly lost it.

The Tigers looked ev­ery bit like the ACC’s best team and a na­tional-ti­tle con­tender. Clem­son quar­ter­back Trevor Law- rence was calm, cool and ac­cu­rate. The true fresh­man (26 of 39, 308 yards, one touch­down) looked like the sure-fire NFL prospect while Fin­ley, a six­thyear se­nior, strug­gled.

Fin­ley, the ACC’s lead­ing passer, fin­ished 21 of 34 for a sea­son-low 156 yards with two in­ter­cep­tions and a fum­ble. Har­mon, the ACC’s lead­ing re­ceiver, fin­ished with two catches for 13 yards (both sea­son-lows).

It was N.C. State’s big­gest games in years, ar­guably decades, but it came out flat and flus­tered. Af­ter Har­mon’s drop, the of­fense was flagged for a de­lay of game penalty and a false start on con­sec­u­tive plays. The Wolf­pack had five penal­ties in the first half, when it dug a hole, and fin­ished with three turnovers in the game.

Clem­son’s de­fen­sive front sped up Fin­ley and forced the ACC’s top passer into a hand­ful

of costly mis­takes. Just ex­e­cut­ing the snap was a chal­lenge.

With the slight­est glim­mer of hope in the sec­ond quar­ter, N.C State moved into Clem­son ter­ri­tory for the first time. Down 14-0 and with a chance to get back in the game, Fin­ley couldn’t col­lect a snap on third-and-10 from the Clem­son 39.

The Tigers re­cov­ered the fum­ble with 2:15 left in the half and scored seven plays later, a 2-yard touch­down run by Travis Eti­enne.

The Tigers scored on their open­ing pos­ses­sion, a nine-play, 57-yard clinic and Lawrence hit re­ceiver Tee Hig­gins (eight catches, 119 yards) on a 46-yard touch­down pass on their sec­ond pos­ses­sion.

Eti­enne’s sec­ond TD run made it 21-0 and then safety K’Von Wal­lace in­ter­cepted Fin­ley be­fore the end of the half ot set up a 28-yard field goal by Greg Huegel. Eti­enne added his third short touch­down run in the third quar­ter.

N.C. State fi­nally got on the board with a 9-yard touch­down run by Reg­gie Gal­laspy on the first play of the fourth quar­ter. The Tigers added 10 more points in the fourth quar­ter for their 14th win over N.C. State in 15 games.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­[email protected]­sob­

N.C. State wide re­ceiver Kelvin Har­mon can't pull in a pass while de­fended by Clem­son cor­ner­back A.J. Ter­rell dur­ing the first half.

ROBERT WIL­LETT rwil­[email protected]­sob­

Clem­son's Travis Eti­enne scores on a 3-yard run to give Clem­son a 7-0 lead in the first quar­ter against N.C. State on Satur­day at Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Clem­son, S.C.

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