Has there been a less likely Player of the Game recipient than Marcus Edmond? And yet, the improbable candidate has earned the honor twice in three games.
The first time, it was his fourth down takedown of James Quick that sealed the deal against Louisville two weeks ago in what many fans of third-ranked Clemson assumed would be the most heart-stopping game in Memorial Stadium during the 2016 season. On Saturday, Edmond locked down yet another tight victory, but this time he used his hands to make a catch instead of a tackle.
Edmond’s interception in the end zone on N.C. State’s first play of overtime capped Clemson’s 24-17 victory over the unranked Wolfpack and incited a mob that stormed the turf at Death Valley with an uncomfortable mixture of annoyance, anger, fatigue, relief, and joy. He only had two tackles, but his final play is the one all interested observers will remember for a while—perhaps longer than his solo stop against the Cardinals.
After the Tigers scored to go ahead 24-17 following a Wolfpack missed field goal on the final play of regulation, N.C. State faced the loudest crowd of the day on its first snap of the extra frame. Edmond was locked up one-on-one with Bra’Lon Cherry, an impressive senior who looked like he had a step on the sophomore cornerback as he approached the goal line.
However, quarterback Ryan Finley—who threw two interceptions on Saturday after attempting 128 straight passes without one in five games this season—underthrew the ball under duress. Edmond used his body to box out Cherry, who only had one catch in the game, and he came down with the ball in the back of the end zone.
On a day where Clemson’s offense played close to its worst, and where its defense began to wear down up front late in action, it took a big play from a reputed season-saver to come up big again to salvage a perfect record.
–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports