Last week’s win over NC State was a frustrating day for No. 3 Clemson.
The Tigers, who are off this week and will play No. 15 Florida State on Oct. 29, turned the ball over four times. One led directly to a touchdown, two more came in the red zone and another ended a promising drive that could have at least led ended in a field goal.
Despite moving the football up and down the field all afternoon, and despite a defense that allowed just 10 points, Clemson let the fate of a possible ACC Championship run rest on the right foot of NC State kicker Kyle Bambard and his 33-yard field goal attempt with two seconds to play.
Fortunately for Clemson, Bambard missed the kick as time expired in regulation. The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) used the new life to get a 10-yard Deshaun Watson to Artavis Scott touchdown pass in the overtime period, and then defensive back Marcus Edmond picked off Ryan Finley’s pass in the end zone to end the game
“You just keep playing. That’s all you can do,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Obviously, it was a frustrating day, like I said, we had the ball inside the five-yard line three times and got no points and that’s kind of a double-edged sword because we had long drives.
“We had 500 yards of offense. We had 14-play drives, 13-play drives, 11-play drives and then you don’t get the pay dirt for it; so now you’ve taken a lot of time off and defensively, we put them in a bad spot, but we only gave up one touchdown.”
With the win, Clemson improved to 15-2 since 2011 in games decided by seven points or less, including a 4-0 mark this season. Despite the way they played against State, Swinney was glad to see his team stay with it and make the plays they needed to make to win the game.
“When it got down to it, it is overtime, are you going to make the plays you’ve got to make to win. We did,” Swinney said. “We made the plays and on both sides, offensively and defensively, to win the game, and you know, that’s what good teams do.”
Swinney said all the turnovers overshadowed a lot of the good things the Tigers did on both sides of the ball.
“Again, for those guys to find a way to win and overcome it … We obviously caught a break, but I think that our effort, they caused some breaks, too. That kind of works both ways,” Swinney said.