- Photo courtesy NCSU athletics/Jack Tarr
- State’s Zach Gentry (49) and Brandon Pittman (39) lower the boom on the Tigers’ Roderick McDowell.
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State gets its first national exposure tonight since Dave Doeren took over as head coach before the season.
The opponent is No. 3 Clemson, the favorite in the ACC and of course one of a handful of teams thought to have a chance to play for the national championship.
ESPN is in the house for the teams’ ACC opener, which is the annual Textile Bowl.
Doeren, who was head coach at Northern Illinois for two seasons before becoming the leader of the Pack, has never
coached a home loss.
And the Wolfpack has been very, very successful in this type of home game over the past two seasons. Last year NCSU shocked then No. 3 Florida State 17-16, and two seasons ago walloped No. 7 Clemson 37-13.
It’s one of those perfect nights for outdoor sports.
And the Wolfpack fights gamely, but the Tigers finish with 415 yards total offense and don’t commit a turnover in a 26-14 win.
Clemson gets a scoring drive after taking the opening kickoff, going 43 yards in 14 plays to set up Chandler Catanzaro’s 49-yard field goal with 9:58 left in the quarter.
The Tigers double the lead with 14:46 left in the half on a 45-yard Catanzaro field goal to end a 14-play, 66-yard march.
Lightning strikes for the Wolfpack at 11:03 of the period, as Shadrach Thornton bursts up the middle for a 21-yard TD run to end a seven-play, 92-yard drive. Niklas Sade gives State the lead with his foot.
Clemson gets the lead back at 2:23, as Tajh Boyd finds Sam Cooper from 11 yards out to finish an eight-play, 56-yard march. Catanzaro’s boot makes it 13-7.
Clemson gets a big break with 7:43 left in the third, as the Wolfpack’s Bryan Underwood breaks free down the right sideline but is controversially ruled out of bounds at the Tiger 47. Four plays later Pete Thomas’ fumble is recovered by Clemson’s Spencer Shuey at the State 48. And five plays after that, Clemson scores on Boyd’s 30-yard pass to Martavis Bryant followed by Catanzaro’s kick to make it 20-7.
Sade misses a 48-yard field-goal attempt with 14:55 left.
The Tigers put it away with 11:27 remaining on a 15-yard Boyd to Bryant pass to end a 10-play, 68-yard drive. The two-point conversion attempt fails, leaving the margin at 26-7.
State makes it 26-14 with 3:50 to go as Thomas goes in from four yards out and Sade adds the boot. But the onside kick doesn’t work.
Boyd completes 24 of 37 passes for 244 yards and three TDs, adding 38 yards on 19 carries. Sammy Watkins catches 10 passes for 96 yards while Bryant snags six for 73 and the two TDs. Linebacker Stephone Anthony has 14 tackles for the Tigers.
Thomas completes 20 of 36 passes for 213 yards and one interception, also carrying 14 times for 30 yards. Underwood carries twice for 54 yards and catches four passes for 35.
They said it:
State coach Dave Doeren: “It was a hard-fought game, and I thought our players competed hard. I’m proud of the way they competed tonight. Clemson is a very good football team. … (The controversial play) was right in front of me. He wasn’t out of bounds. Unfortunately, they blew it dead so we couldn’t review it. It cost us some points, but you have to move on.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: “We’re glad to get that one over with. We can’t load the buses up soon enough. That’s a good football team we just played. They fought the entire four quarters. That team is going to win a bunch of games this year.”
What does it all mean?
That Clemson survives a tough enough test on the road, and that the Wolfpack may have the potential to upset somebody as the team improves.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Boyd’s TD pass to Bryant to put Clemson up by two touchdowns.
State: Lost 1.
Clemson: Won 4.
Clemson leads 53-28-1.
State vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m.
Clemson vs. Wake Forest, Sept 28, TBA