By Gray Gardner.
CLEMSON, S.C. – Although it was not pretty by any means, the Clemson football team found a way to win against the 25th ranked Wolfpack of N.C. State on a cold autumn day in Clemson.
The Tigers overcame 2 missed field goals, 1 interception and 5 fumbles to beat the Pack 14-13.
N.C. State scored their lone touchdown early in the first quarter on a 3-yard pass in the flats from Russell Wilson to Mustafa Greene. The Tigers forced an incompletion on the previous play, causing a fourth down situation. However, a pass interference call on linebacker Corico Hawkins gave the Pack a new set of downs inside the Tigers’ 10 yard line. They would score on the next play.
Clemson responded with a 15 yard drive that moved the Tigers down to the N.C. State 20 yard line. A delay of game penalty forced the Clemson offense into a 3rd and 13 situation. Parker’s pass fell incomplete on the following play and the field goal team sprinted onto the field.
Senior kicker Richard Jackson got the nod over freshman Chandler Catanzaro after Catanzaro’s poor game a week ago against Boston College. Unfortunately, Jackson would not fair any better than his teammate, missing his first field goal attempt wide right.
The Tigers’ defense held strong on the Wolfpack’s ensuing drive though, forcing a punt. The momentum was short lived.
Ten plays into Clemson’s offensive drive, Kyle Parker scrambled and threw on the run as he was pressured. The pass was intercepted by N.C. State’s Terrell Manning and returned 81 yards for a touchdown. However, a block in the back penalty voided the touchdown and placed the ball back on the State 17 yard line.
The Wolfpack’s offensive drive ended at the Clemson 13 yard line when Josh Czajkowski’s field goal was blocked by defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins, giving the Tigers the ball back.
Once again, the momentum was short lived for the Orange and White.
Tajh Boyd and Jamie Harper fumbled a hand-off on the next play. The ball was recovered by State at the Clemson 7 yard line.
Again the Clemson defense stood firm and made a play, this time in the form of a DeAndre McDaniel interception in the endzone. However, he Tigers could not capitalize on the turnover and punted.
They would get the ball back right before half-time. With under a minute left in the half, Kyle Parker found Bryce McNeal in the endzone for a 13-yard score. But the play was called back on a holding penalty. Time expired as Kyle Parker was sacked on two consecutive plays.
The second half brought much of the same for the Clemson offense. The Tigers started off their first drive of the third quarter with turnover. Quarterback Kyle Parker fumbled the ball as he was sacked by J.R. Sweezy.
The Wolfpack recovered and settled for a 28-yard field goal from kicker Czajkowski.
After consecutive punts by the Clemson and State offenses, the Tigers’ finally found the endzone. Kyle Parker connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 12-yard score. This time there were no flags on the play. The third quarter ended with the Wolfpack leading 10-7.
Russell Wilson’s offense responded on their immediate drive with another field goal from kicker Czajkowski, this time from 27 yards out.
Marcus Gilchrist returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to set up the Tigers’ next offensive series. After three plays and no first downs, Coach Dabo Swinney again elected to kick the field.
Richard Jackson was given the nod again, but again failed to connect on a 32-yard attempt.
The Clemson defense continued to hold N.C. State’s offense at bay during the fourth quarter, forcing fourth down situations on each of their last three possessions.
Clemson’s offense found a rhythm midway through the last quarter of play on an 8 play, 39 yard drive that resulted in a Jamie Harper touchdown run. Chandler Catanzaro replaced Richard Jackson to kick the extra point, hitting the kick perfectly and making the score 14-13 in favor of the Tigers.
The Tigers held onto the lead to end the game, improving their record to 5-4 on the season.
Continue to check in with TheClemsonInsider.com throughout the day for more video and analysis of Clemson’s victory over N.C. State.