Tigers battle past Wolfpack, 26-14

Tajh Boyd connects with Sam Cooper, Martavis Bryant for TDs, Vic Beasley dominates

Clemson's Corey Crawford pressures North Carolina State's Pete Thomas during the fourth quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Corey Crawford pressures North Carolina State's Pete Thomas during the fourth quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

— On Thursday the No. 3 Clemson Tigers entered hostile territory for the first time this season, taking on a ramped up North Carolina State team on its own turf in front of its own fans.

But Carter-Finley Stadium has a field that measures 120 yards long and 53.3 yards wide — just like the one at Memorial Stadium.

And after feeling their way around for a half-hour or so, Dabo Swinney’s men finally made themselves at home.

No. 3 Tigers down State, 26-14

Clemson pulls away in second half

Relying more on their defense than the high-powered offense that was on display in wins over Georgia and South Carolina State, Clemson improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC by outslugging the Wolfpack (2-1, 0-1) 26-14 before 57,583 fans.

“First of all, we’re glad to get that one over with,” Swinney said. “We can’t load the busses up soon enough. That’s a good football team we played. Hats’ off to N.C. State.”

Tajh Boyd shook off a sluggish first half to finish with solid numbers, hitting 24 of 37 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. His 79 career TD passes ties him with former Florida State QB Chris Weinke for second most in ACC history.

Sammy Watkins caught 10 balls for 96 yards and T.L. Hanna product Martavis Bryant had six catches for 73 yards and two scores.

And kicker Chandler Catanzaro became the school’s all-time leading scorer with two field goals and a pair of extra points that gives him 330 points just a fourth of the way through the regular season.

This Textile Bowl was a lot more crash than flash, with both defenses overshadowing the offenses for the bulk of the night. After racking up 110 points last November the teams had managed only 20 by halftime — although the Tigers owned 13 of them.

Still, it didn’t matter how many points Clemson had as long as it was more than State. That’s what Swinney and company needed to do to maintain their perfect record and notch their first ACC win of 2013.

And that’s what they did down the stretch — aided by Brent Venables’ “D.”

“I’m proud of our guys,” Swinney said. “The goal is to be 3-0 right now and that’s where we are. We have nine more to go.”

The biggest defensive play of the game came midway through the third.

After Bryan Underwood ran for 30 yards (officials ruled he stepped out of bounds, negating what would’ve been an 83-yard TD) the Wolfpack was on the move.

“That was right in front of me,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “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 from that.”

But the drive ended when defensive end Vic Beasley sacked QB Pete Thomas, forcing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Spencer Shuey at the State 48.

Five plays later the team from the Upstate had some breathing room as Boyd hit Bryant on a 30-yard scoring strike at 5:25 of the third.

Catanzaro kicked it to 20-7.

With 11:27 remaining Clemson finally had the game in hand as another Boyd-to Bryant paydirt connection — this one from 15 yards out — inflated the cushion to 26-7.

“He had a rough first game,” Swinney said. “Nobody was panicking and he came back and had a great game against South Carolina State. Tonight he was awesome.”

The hosts got a “by-the-way” score 3:50 from the finish when Thomas scored on a 4-yard run that capped off a time-gobbling 23-play, 84 yard march that lasted the equivalent of half a quarter.

Thomas was 20 of 35 passing for NCSU with 213 yards and a pick.

Clemson’s — and the game’s — opening drive lasted 14 plays and went for 43 yards, ending when Catanzaro nailed a 49-yard field goal at 9:58 of the first.

And after scoring the contest’s initial points Catanzaro added the first of the second frame as well, booting a 45-yard sidewinder at 14:46 of the quarter to make it 6-0.

It, too, capped off a 14-play march, this one stalling after 66 yards.

The Wolfpack, however, would make up that deficit on the ensuing drive — and erase it with the extra point.

Sparked by a 32-yard pass from Pete Thomas to Shadrach Thornton, State moved all the way down to the Clemson 16.

Following a false start flag Thornton closed the deal from the 21, making a flashy run up the middle that ended just inside the end zone with 11:03 left before halftime.

Venables proud of Tiger 'D'

None

The kick split the pipes, and the home ‘dogs were up, 7-6, thanks to a 92-yard journey.

The Tigers were able to regain the advantage before intermission, finally generating a touchdown with 2:23 showing on the second quarter clock.

Sam Cooper did the honors, reeling in an 11-yard scoring toss from Boyd to wrap up a 56-yard, eight play drive.

Catanzaro kicked true, and Clemson headed to the locker room with a far-from-comfortable 13-7 lead.

By the end of the evening, it was comfortable enough.

Stephone Anthony had six solo tackles and 14 overall for the winners, with Shuey adding 11 (four solo).

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Comments » 5

f8thwlk writes:

Good teams find a way to win. Is that what this was??? Personally I think the Tigers are understanding what it takes to win. Win pretty, win ugly, all that matters is the "W".

TrevorT writes:

Sure, you want to see more out of our offense than they showed tonight, but hats off to the D for keeping that game under control. They absolutely refused to surrender momentum. A very solid, tough fought road win. Next?

brookesdad729 writes:

I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week! Mentally this team is farther along than any I have seen in a long time! The keep fighting and fighting and never give up! I pray that was Tajh's last "off" game! Go Tigers!

Bigboots writes:

It was ugly alright.
Did no one tell Boyd that Humphries was at the game?

SoCalTiger writes:

Too bad the clip showing Isaiah Battle's upper cut is getting a lot of play. That was the only blemish on a hard fought win. Go Tigers!

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