Artavis Scott said he felt helpless standing on the sideline as NC State kicker Kyle Bambard lined up to attempt a game-winning 33-yard field goal with two seconds to play.
After all of the hard work in the off-season and beating No. 7 Louisville in a game for the ages, it had come down to this. Putting their ACC, College Football Playoff and National Championship dreams in the hopes an opposing team’s kicker would miss a relatively easy field goal attempt.
“It was tough. I was like, ‘Dang!’” said Clemson’s wide receiver.
Tight end Jordan Leggett said he could not watch as he stuck his face in his towel as Bambard’s foot met leather and the last two seconds ticked off the clock. Leggett said it felt like the ball was going in slow motion as it slowly made its way to the goal post on the east end of Memorial Stadium.
“Somebody above was looking out for us,” he said.
Whatever it was, something or someone blew Bambard’s kick just slightly to the right of the goal post as the sophomore missed it by no more than a foot.
“I ended up on the (ground) and I looked up and I saw it start to sail, then I closed my eyes and I couldn’t believe what was actually happening, so I just waited for the crowd to cheer,” defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said. “Then I knew they messed up because they gave us another chance.”
NC State actually gave the No. 3 Tigers a gift, keeping their national title dreams alive, as Scott caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Deshaun Watson in overtime and cornerback Marcus Edmond sealed the win with an interception for a 24-17 overtime victory.
“This is one of the few overtime games I have been in since high school, and it is definitely one I will remember,” Leggett said.
But it’s also one Leggett says the Tigers will learn from.
“Yes, every team we play for the rest of the schedule is going to play us their best, just like NC State. We have to look forward to that because we have a target on our back,” he said.
Still perfect. Clemson moves to 7-0 for the season. This is just the sixth 7-0 start in Clemson history and the third under Dabo Swinney. The Tigers started 8-0 in 2011 and 14-0 in 2015.
Working overtime. Saturday’s game marked the first overtime contest in Death Valley since Sept. 24, 2005 (vs. Boston College) and just the sixth overtime game ever in Memorial Stadium. Clemson is 7-6 all-time in overtime games, 2-2 in overtime games under Dabo Swinney and 3-3 in home overtime games.
Winning close games. The Tigers moved to 15-2 in games decided by seven points or less since 2011 and 4-0 this season.
Another banner day for Watson. Watson raised his record as a starting quarterback to 25-2. He joins Rodney Williams (32), Tajh Boyd (32) and Charlie Whitehurst (25) as the only 25-game winners in Clemson history. His game-winning touchdown pass was his 39th completion of the game, setting a Clemson single-game record for completions (38, Cullen Harper vs Virginia Tech, 2007).
Saturday was Watson’s 12th career game with at least one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown. Watson set a season-high in passing yards (378) on 52 attempts, also a career-high. With 413 yards of total offense, Watson passed Woodrow Dantzler and moved into third on Clemson’s career total offense list (1,584 rushing yards, 7,520 passing yards, 9,104 total yards).