Tigers win ugly; back in division race

By: Hale McGranahan
November 8, 2010

CLEMSON – It was far from pretty, but at the end of the day the scoreboard told you the only thing you needed to know: Clemson 14 N.C. State 13.

Before 74,000 fans at Memorial Stadium on Military Appreciation Day, the Tigers lost two of their five fumbles, threw an interception, missed a pair of field goals and committed seven penalties for 77 yards.

And with the lead and less than three minutes to play, the win was almost squandered with a punt snap that nearly missed Dawson Zimmerman’s right hand.

“That might be play of the game,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. “What a heck of a grab…a one-handed grab. I just about threw up when I saw the ball snapped.”

The win improved Clemson to 5-4 (3-3 ACC) and dropped N.C. State to 6-3 (3-2 ACC).

“We’ve played a lot better and lost,” Swinney said. “It’s good to finally win one, overcoming a lot of adversity, having to persevere. I can’t say enough about the heart of our football team.”

Clemson held the ACC’s second-best offense–which averaged 455.8 yards coming into the game–to just 275 yards. Russell Wilson completed 22 of 36 passes for 212 yards to go along with a team-high 29 yards rushing.

“I think we stood up today,” said DeAndre McDaniel, whose second quarter interception caused defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to hyperventilate. “That’s one of the best efforts that I’ve seen [at Clemson].”

Wilson was sacked four times, including a pair from Da’Quan Bowers, who’s tied for second with Gaines Adams for the school’s single-season sack record.

“At the end of the day, they relentlessly kept fighting, and tried to dominate the line of scrimmage and keep them out of the end zone,” Steele said.

Clemson didn’t allow any points after the second quarter turnovers.

Kyle Parker’s interception, which N.C. State outside linebacker Terrell Manning took for an 81-yard touchdown return, was nullified because an illegal block in the back.

At the conclusion of the following drive, Jarvis Jenkins blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by Josh Czajkowski.

One play later, Clemson started at the 11 and ended at the 7 when a Tajh Boyd handoff was dropped by Jamie Harper.

McDaniel grabbed his interception in the end zone on the ensuing drive.

To go along with the block and the interception, Steele mentioned the fourth quarter stops as critically important plays.

“They’ve got the [second-best] offense in the league. A quarterback that is very special, and we hold them four downs and out in two-minute,” he said. “That was big.”

N.C. State jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead after Russell Wilson connected on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mustafa Greene. The Wolfpack staked to the lead throughout the first half and into the second.

Wilson’s fellow Colorado Rocky minor league prospect, Kyle Parker, went 20 of 29 for 214 yards and a touchdown.

Trailing 10-0 with 2:44 left in the third quarter, Parker threw the touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with five catches for 80 yards. It was the Tigers’ first points since the third quarter of the Georgia Tech game.

Before the start of his second season as offensive coordinator, Billy Napier knew he could be in store for days like Saturday.

“We felt like going into this year that our defense was going to be the strength of the team, and there were going to be some ugly days, at times,” he said. “Today was a good example of that.”

Jamie Harper rushed for a team-high 60 yards on 25 carries, including a 4-yard run with 6:18 to play. Chandler Catanzaro booted the go-ahead extra-point because Richard Jackson missed field goals from 37 and 32 yards previously.

“It feels good,” McDaniel said. “We needed some momentum to get this thing started.”