Clemson did everything it could to lose, but somehow still won

Oct 15, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Artavis Scott (3) carries the ball while being defended by North Carolina State Wolfpack cornerback Nick McCloud (21) during the second half at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Tigers won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Just before he went up and caught Ryan Finley’s pass to end Saturday’s 24-17 overtime victory over NC State, Clemson cornerback Marcus Edmond said he knew he was going to intercept the pass.

“After I caught it, I kind of blacked out,” Edmond said afterwards.

That might have had something to do with the fact he was mobbed by his teammates after he jumped in front of Bra’Lon Cherry to snag Finley’s pass in the end zone.

“I almost died. Everyone kept on piling, and I’m trying to get up, and everybody kept on piling on top,” Edmond said afterwards. “I’m like, ‘I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!’ Everybody just kept on piling on. I almost died.”

Clemson fans almost did, too. The 81,200 that showed up on Saturday watched as the third-ranked Tigers did everything they could to lose the game, but somehow found a way to win it. Clemson turned the ball over four times, three times in the red zone and the other was a pick-six to start the third quarter.

Clemson was also stopped by the ‘Pack on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line.

Of course NC State kicker Kyle Bambard helped the Tigers win it. The sophomore lined up to attempt a winning-kick at the end of regulation but it sailed wide right, sending the game into overtime. It was the first time since 1991 that an opposing kicker missed a field goal that would have beat the Tigers in regulation.

Scott Session missed a 44-yard kick for Georgia Tech in a 9-7 Clemson victory that afternoon.

“I really didn’t watch the kick. I just watched the student section,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “When I saw them going crazy, I was like, ‘So you are saying there is a chance. We still have some life in us.’”

Artavis Scott, who ended up catching the winning touchdown, said he felt helpless watching Bambard lining up for the possible winning kick with two seconds to play.

“That was tough. I was like, ‘Dang!” But I still had faith that he was going to miss it. I knew something was going to happen. I knew we were going to get another shot,” he said.

After a brief celebration, Scott said his first thought was “Let’s go win it.”

But again Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) tried to lose it first. After a false start penalty to open overtime, the Tigers faced a fourth-and-one play from the NC State 16. Swinney decided to go for it, and C.J. Fuller, who was in for the injured Wayne Gallman, ran for two yards to keep the drive alive.

Then on second-and-eight from the 12, quarterback Deshaun Watson found tight end Jordan Leggett, who a made sliding catch for an 11-yard gain to the one. But on first-and-goal, the snap popped off Watson’s hands and went over his head, where he chased it down and fell on the ball at the 10-yard line.

“We had the ball at the one and I guess we felt like we needed to back it up to the 10-yard line,” Swinney said. “We just kind of wanted to keep the rhythm of the day going.”

However, Watson made up for it on the next play when Watson hit Scott on a skinny post on the next play for a 10-yard touchdown, which turned out to be the game winner.

“As soon as they called it, I knew we were going to score. It was huge. It was exciting,” Scott said. “All we had to do was have our defense go out there and make a stop. And they got a stop for us.”

Actually, it was Edmond that got the stop, jumping in front of Cherry to seal the victory. It is a good thing he did not black out.

–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

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