Tigers escape Kenan Stadium
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Top-ranked Clemson struggled its way to a 21-20 victory over North Carolina at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) sputtered at times offensively and never found a consistent rhythm. But the defense delivered with a huge tackle for loss on a Carolina (2-3, 1-1 ACC) two-point conversion attempt with 1:17 left in the contest for a chance at the lead.
Every week The Clemson Insider gives helmet stickers to Tiger players who made significant contributions to the team’s success:
Higgins played another outstanding game and was the only Clemson wide receiver with a touchdown reception. He finished the game with six catches for 129 yards, including the 38-yard score to give the Tigers their first lead of the game with 9:54 to play in the contest.
Simmons continued to cement himself as the leader of the Tiger defense and showed up for a unit that worked with shorter fields against the Tar Heels. He led all players in tackles with 10, including a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, and also recorded a pass breakup.
He was a big part of the Tiger defense’s effort to slow down Carolina freshman phenom Sam Howell at quarterback.
Clemson safety Tanner Muse left Saturday’s game with what we are told unofficially is a hamstring injury, forcing junior Nolan Turner to step up. Turner totaled six tackles and one tackle for loss in the win.
Turner also sealed the edge and took the pitch man out of the play on Howell’s option play as Carolina attempted to steal the lead away with a two-point conversion. He was credited for a share of the tackle.
Lawrence still has not broken out for a signature game yet this season, but he was a major part of the Tigers’ success in Chapel Hill. Lawrence finished the day 18-of-30 through the air for 206 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
He also provided another element to the game with his ability to scramble when the pocket broke down and proved an instrument in designed run plays. Lawrence carried the ball 11 times for 57 yards and a touchdown but was sacked once and tackled for a loss and netted 45 yards rushing.
Skalski totaled five tackles and a tackle for loss, but the Tigers did surrender 146 yards rushing, primarily to Carolina junior Michael Carter who finished the game with 99 yards on 16 carries. But Skalski earned a helmet sticker by combining for the game-winning tackle on Howell’s two-point conversion attempt with Turner and Xavier Thomas.
Clemson returns to action on Oct. 12, hosting a disheveled Florida State team after the first of two open dates.