NC State loses to No. 3 Clemson 26-14
One sequence – a referee’s whistle, a turnover and a touchdown –
changed everything for North Carolina State in its first Atlantic
Coast Conference game under coach Dave Doeren.
The Wolfpack hung with No. 3 Clemson through the first half
Thursday night and appeared to have momentum on Bryan Underwood’s
long sideline run for a touchdown. But a referee ruled him out of
bounds, then Clemson capitalized on an N.C. State turnover in a
game-changing sequence in the Tigers’ 26-14 win.
TV replays appeared to show Underwood staying just inside the
sideline for an 83-yard score to tie the game, but the whistle made
the play unreviewable and gave the ball to the Wolfpack at the
Clemson 47. Pete Thomas fumbled on a sack three plays later, then
Tajh Boyd threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant to make
”It’s just disappointing when have a big play like that and it
doesn’t count,” Doeren said. ”You’ve just got to move on. You
can’t complain about things you can’t control. … Unfortunately it
cost us some points.”
Doeren said the call came right in front of him and that
Underwood didn’t step out.
”You’ve got to get some breaks throughout your season if you’re
trying to have a great year,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
”We got a couple breaks, there’s no question about it. … That’s
a tough break for them, and a good break for us.”
For Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC), Boyd threw for 244 yards and three
touchdowns, two to Bryant. On the second, Bryant snatched the ball
from defender Niles Clark for a 15-yard score that helped the
Tigers make it a three-possession game.
Sammy Watkins added 10 catches for 96 yards on a night when
Clemson’s explosive offense didn’t manage many big plays yet
finished with 415 yards.
Shadrach Thornton scored the Wolfpack’s first touchdown on a
21-yard run in the second quarter. N.C. State (2-1, 0-1) led 7-6 at
that point but couldn’t complete the upset.
The Tigers entered Raleigh with their highest ranking in 25
years and a prime spot in the national championship chase. They
also came with memories of their inexplicably bad performance here
two seasons earlier, when the Wolfpack scored 27 second-quarter
points en route to a 37-13 rout of the then-No. 7 Tigers.
N.C. State followed that win with an upset of No. 3 Florida
State here last year, and Doeren – the former Northern Illinois
coach – said that history gave his veterans confidence they could
do it again.
But N.C. State’s hopes of beating a Top 10 team at home for the
third straight season essentially ended in that frustrating
sequence midway through the third.
The Underwood call led to boos raining down from the
Carter-Finley Stadium stands and continued until after Bryant’s
second score made it 26-7 with 11:27 left.
Sam Cooper added an 11-yard touchdown catch with 2:23 left in
the second quarter that gave the Tigers a 13-7 halftime lead they
Thomas threw for 213 yards on 20-for-36 passing for the
Wolfpack. He ran for a 4-yard score to cap a 23-play scoring drive
with 3:50 left.
N.C. State finished with 378 total yards, but failed to convert
its first eight third-down tries and finished 3 for 16 for the
Clemson reserve left tackle Isaiah Battle was ejected for a late
shove to the facemask of N.C. State’s Jarvis Byrd with 1:33
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