Clemson received the opening kickoff and started from their own 25, and an early facemask penalty on State put Clemson quickly near midfield. A wide-open Ngata picked up 21 yards followed by Antonio Williams converting a quick slant on third down to move within the red zone.
After a stout goal-line stand from the Wolfpack, Potter hit the 20-yard attempt cleanly.
NC State started their first possession on the 19-yard line and converted a 3rd and 16 situation to move the chains. On 4th and 1 Leary picked up the first down again on a QB sneak and then tossed a big throw to Devin Carter to the Clemson 7.
A KJ Henry TFL and two stops later, the Pack tacked on their own field goal to even things at 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Clemson and State traded 3-and-outs and the Tigers’ third drive started from the 13-yard line. DJ picked up 11 yards on a designed QB run but then lost that after a mistimed snap. Adam Randall picked up 16 yards to force the punt, but a Wolfpack special teams mistake of running into Swanson after his punt allowed Clemson to keep working.
An incomplete pass to Ngata drew the flag for pass interference, again extending Clemson’s shaky drive. Briningstool collected a short pass to move the chains, followed by the second false start penalty of the game for the Tigers.
State’s defense refused to allow any running room for Clemson, and Potter tacked on 3 more points for the Tigers on a 46-yard field goal.
A targeting penalty on Andrew Mukuba sent #1 out of the game before the half, further depleting an already thin secondary. Pass interference called on RJ Mickens put the Wolfpack in prime position to score, which they did two plays later on a 2-yard pass to Ced Seabrough.
Clemson got their fourth possession of the game with just under two minutes left in the first half and moved to midfield via a DJ scramble and a 14-yard reception by Beaux Collins, his first catch of the game.
Two big runs from Shipley pushed Clemson to the 27-yard line, immediately followed by a great catch and run to the 1 from the star running back. On the very next play, DJ took the snap and dove for the endzone, putting Clemson back on top to close out the first half at 13-10.
A huge sack from Barrett Carter on Leary’s blindside opened the half, followed immediately by another sack from Myles Murphy to shut down State’s opening possession. DJ then ripped off the longest run of his career and capped a quick drive off with a beautiful touch pass to Jake Briningstool to move the Tigers’ lead to 20-10.
State drove steadily to the Clemson 32-yard line before a drop on third down ended their endzone hopes. Christopher Dunn nailed the 49-yard field goal though, cutting the deficit to seven.
A nice throw to Briningstool moved Clemson quickly to NC State territory for a big 3rd and 5, but DJ was dragged down before he could escape the pocket. Potter then missed for the first time all year, giving the Pack a much-needed break.
Unfortunately for State, their ensuing drive went nowhere, and Clemson took over at their 26-yard line. Facing a 3rd and 7, DJ’s pass to Joseph Ngata was nearly picked off; Clemson escaped with the punt and sent possession right back to the Pack.
An awkward bobble off the hands of State’s receiver created Toriano Pride’s first career interception and the first turnover of the ballgame. A nice catch and run from Antonio Williams quickly moved Clemson inside Pack territory to end the third quarter up 20-13.
Pack’s defense held strong to stop Clemson from reaching the endzone but Potter corrected his previous miss and drilled the 44-yard field goal attempt.
On State’s next drive, the Tigers got home for their third sack of the game to send the ball back to their offense. DJ just barely overthrew a streaking Beaux Collins to miss a sure-fire touchdown, and the visitors took back over with ten minutes remaining in the game.
Devin Leary guided his team calmly down the field until a holding penalty stalled things for the Wolfpack offense. On fourth down, an errant snap resulted in a brutal turnover on downs to effectively seal their fate in Death Valley.
Clemson took over and methodically marched down the field, aided by a targeting penalty on Derrek Pitts. On third down, Phil Mafah broke through an arm tackle to set up 1st and goal.
Facing a 3rd and goal from the nine-yard line, DJ faked the handoff and rolled around the defender for his second rushing touchdown of the game, icing it in style.
A questionable roughing-the-passer penalty negated an incredible pick by Keith Maguire, and State padded their stats with a late touchdown to bring the final score to 30-20.
DJ is showing consistent leadership and quality play to keep Clemson in these games. Super impressive to see his growth from last year to now.
TIGHT ENDS WOOOOOOOOOO!
So many injuries, so many backups on the field. At one point Clemson was missing 7 starters from the defense - that is a nightmare scenario for a top-ten matchup. Have to be proud of the way the defense responded after last week’s debacle - there is hope yet for the young players.
BT Potter is such an underrated weapon in these close games. He had his first miss from 46 yards tonight but has been otherwise perfect this year. It is huge that you can basically just expect a free field goal anytime you’re within 50 yards because of him.
The home streak stays alive!!! Big-time win from a big-time program.