As soon as the play was signaled in from the sideline and he lined up, Clemson receiver Artavis Scott knew he was going to score.
And that’s what he did.
Scott caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime of third-ranked Clemson’s 24-17 win over N.C. State on Saturday in Death Valley, helping the Tigers avoid an upset, preserve their undefeated season and keep their College Football Playoff aspirations intact.
“As soon as they called it and (the N.C. State defender) lined up the way he did, I knew I was going to score,” Scott said of his touchdown. “Just the way he lined up, he was playing outside, so I knew I had it.”
In overtime, on second-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Clemson lined up in a spread formation with two receivers on each side.
Scott, in the slot on the left, ran a skinny post route and fell to the ground in the end zone as he hauled in the 10-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson that handed Clemson a 24-17 lead.
N.C. State took possession, and Clemson cornerback Marcus Edmond intercepted quarterback Ryan Finley on the first play to seal the victory for the Tigers.
All of this occurred after N.C. State kicker Kyle Bambard missed a potential game-winning 33-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.
“It was a big play we needed,” Scott said. “We were battling with them all game, and I had a slow start, so I had to make some type of play.”
The junior from Clearwater, Fla., has made two of the biggest plays of Clemson’s season thus far.
Two weeks ago against then-No. 4 Louisville, Scott returned a kickoff 77 yards at a critical time in the fourth quarter to ignite Clemson’s comeback win.
Then, Scott caught Clemson’s first game-winning reception in overtime since Jacoby Ford’s 26-yard touchdown grab from Kyle Parker at Miami on Oct. 24, 2009.
“Just have to go out there and make plays,” Scott said. “That’s what it’s all about. Like I said, I had a slow start, so I had to get some type of spark. That’s what we were talking about. We have to bring it, and then he missed that field goal, so we had to go out there and do something.”
Clemson’s season would be a different story right now were it not for the missed field goal, as well as the knocked-down Hail Mary attempt at Auburn in the season opener and the narrow fourth-down stop by Clemson’s defense against Louisville.
But Clemson has made plays when it’s mattered most, with some good fortune sprinkled in.
The bottom line is Clemson has found a way to win, and because of that, all of the Tigers’ goals for the 2016 season remain attainable.
“It’s the heart of our team,” Scott said. “We believe in one another. We’re a special team, so that’s one thing when we face adversity, we just keep having each other’s back and keep pushing.”