CLEMSON, S.C. (Clemson SID) – No. 3 Clemson, more specifically backup cornerback Marcus Edmond, did it again. For the second home game in a row, Edmond made the game-saving play, this time with his first career interception in the endzone in the first overtime in Clemson’s 24-17 win over NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Bambard’s 33-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in regulation sailed wide right, keeping the hopes of Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) alive. Artavis Scott’s 10-yard receiving touchdown in overtime gave the Tigers a 24-17 lead, then on the Wolfpack’s first play in overtime, Edmond ended the game with an interception in the endzone. Two weeks ago, Edmond stopped James Quick one yard shy of a first down at the three yard line to preserve Clemson’s 42-36 win over No. 3 Louisville.
The Tigers, who overcame four turnovers and three trips inside the Wolfpack five yard line without scoring points, were led by Deshaun Watson. The junior was 39-52 passing for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Williams, Watson’s top target, had 146 yards on 12 receptions.
The Tigers led 3-0 after the first quarter, with Greg Huegel converting a 25-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Earlier in the quarter, Wayne Gallman exited with a head injury and did not return.
A pair of Tigers experienced notable career feats in the second quarter. Freshman K’Von Wallace collected his first career interception, picking off Ryan Finley, the signal-caller’s first interception of the season. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins had a 10-yard rush for a first down on a fake punt and later blocked a field goal.
With the score tied 3-3 late in the second quarter, Watson and the Tigers executed the two-minute drill to perfection, stringing together a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Williams caught a touchdown pass for the fourth consecutive game, hauling in a 13-yard pass from Watson with 10 seconds left to put the Tigers ahead 10-3.
Mistakes proved costly for Clemson in the third quarter, with the Tigers turning it over three times on consecutive possessions. On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Mike Stevens intercepted a pass and raced 28 yards for a touchdown to tie the score 10-10. Later in the quarter, Clemson fumbled twice inside the five yard line, with the latter recovered and returned by the Wolfpack into Clemson territory.
But the Tigers responded with a 77-yard touchdown drive, with Watson scoring on a four-yard rush, his first score on the ground this season, that gave the Tigers a 17-10 lead.
Matthew Dayes plunged into the endzone for two-yard rushing touchdown with 11:29 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score. Late in the game, the Wolfpack drove down the field and milked the clock, setting up a 33-yard field-goal try by Bambard with two seconds on the clock. After a Tiger timeout, Bambard’s kick missed by a few feet wide right.
Clemson faced a fourth-and-inches on its possession in overtime, as C.J. Fuller reached the line to gain. The Tigers moved to the one yard, but Watson was unable to hold on to the first-down snap and Clemson fell on the ball at the 10. On the next play, Watson connected with Scott for the go-ahead score.
NC State went for the endzone on its first play of overtime, but Edmond stepped in front the pass and hauled it in to send the Tiger faithful into a frenzy.
The Tigers garnered their 43rd straight victory over an unranked opponent, the second-longest streak in the nation.
Following its upcoming bye week, Clemson will go on the road to battle Florida State on October 29.
Dabo Swinney Opening statement:
“Just another day in the office. We wanted to be sure ABC’s Coast to Coast ratings went up. First of all, I have to give NC State a lot of credit. We knew they were going to give us every ounce of juice that they had in their body, and they did. Right now, we’ve beat everybody but Clemson. We’re trying to beat Clemson, but we haven’t quite achieved that yet. We’ve had nine turnovers in our last two home games here, but obviously we’re finding ways to win against good teams. Today is a little disappointing because we get a stop on downs, then turn two over on the goal line and then we have a pick-six, and you can’t script it any better for NC State, so you have to give them credit. We moved the ball up and down, and there’s something to be said for finding a way to win, and that’s all I can say. It’s not always pretty and you have to win games like that along the way. At the end of the day, you have to love the fight of this team and their ‘never quit’ attitude. There were many frustrating plays, but you just had to move on to the next play.”
On Jordan Leggett:
“Wow. He converted on highly-competitive plays when we had to have it.”
On Clemson’s defense and Marcus Edmonds:
“Defensively, I thought they pushed us around a little bit. I didn’t think we were on our ‘A’ game defensively. You can’t allow teams like that to have those kinds of opportunities. But we played well enough. We had some interceptions and tackles for loss, but Marcus Edmond executed on the last plays of the game for two consecutive games and two of the biggest plays we’re probably ever going to have. It’s just awesome to see those guys perform.”
On special teams:
“I told the guys that we were going to win on special teams. They got nothing on returns. We executed on the tremendous fake punt. It gave us tremendous field position. However, the biggest play of the game was the blocked field goal by Christian Wilkins. I’m really proud with what we’re doing on special teams. At the end of the day, we’re 7-0 and the only team in the Atlantic Division that controls their destiny, and that’s where we wanted to be.”
On the fans:
“Awesome. They were a major factor in this game. NC State had a ton of penalties and false starts, especially early in the game, and credit a lot of that to the fans. I can’t thank them enough for the environment they give us to play in.”
NC STATE HEAD COACH DAVE DOEREN QUOTES
“Let me say this right now…I’m not going to give you guys a lot. Two years ago, it was 41-0. Today, we played them into overtime with a chance to beat them and we didn’t. It was not a moral victory…we could have won that game. We were one play away from having a masterpiece today, and we just didn’t.”
On forcing four turnovers against Clemson’s offense:
“If we would’ve won, it would have been great.”
On Clemson’s offense:
“Well, we kept them in front. We didn’t let them be explosive and they’re an explosive offense. It was frustrating at times because they were nickle and diming us and we didn’t want to give up a play. And that’s what we did most of the drives…we found a way to stop them.”
On the play before the field goal at the end of the game:
“It was a fake outside zone play where we had a tight end blocking the edge that was coming back late…a high drop. They did a good job covering it, so we couldn’t take a sack. Ryan scrambled back to the middle to put the ball in the center of the uprights for us.
On what he said to Kyle Bambard after the game:
“I haven’t seen him yet, but I will encourage him.”
CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES – OFFENSE
JORDAN LEGGETT, TE
On where this game ranks in his Clemson career:
“It is definitely up there. This is one of the few overtime games I have been in since high school, and it is definitely one I will remember.”
On how playing with the great expectations has affected the team:
“Yes, every team we play for the rest of the schedule is going to play us their best, just like NC State. We have to look forward to that because we have a target on our back.”
On NC State lining up for the game-winning field-goal attempt:
“I couldn’t even watch. I had my face in my towel praying and somebody up above was looking out for us.”
On if you were concerned heading into overtime:
“Yes, definitely if we got the ball back, I knew we would be able to win.”
MIKE WILLIAMS, WR
On the emotion during the field-goal attempt:
“First, I just want to say, NC State, that is a great team. They played a great game. They forced a lot of turnovers, but on the sideline, I was hoping that he would miss it.”
On if the drops caused the offense to be off:
“Not really. I felt like we left some plays on the field, but I don’t think that was the reason. We had a couple of turnovers, and I think that was it.”
On the ability to win despite turning the ball over:
“We just have to be Clemson. If you turn the ball over, it isn’t going to be good, so we just need to keep the ball.”
CLEMSON PLAYER QUOTES – OFFENSE
CHRISTIAN WILKINS DL
On blocking the field goal:
“Coach (Dan) Brooks always calls the field-goal blocks, and it was a good call on his part. It set us up perfectly, you had Dexter (Lawrence) and Carlos (Watkins) manhandling the guards inside, so I was able to take advantage of my guy one-on-one. I ripped inside and went up. I knew we needed a big play.”
On the fake punt:
“It was a lot of fun. It is always fun to be able to get the rock a little bit. They were prepared for it. They had everybody ready and sitting, so I had to bounce it a little bit more. It was meant to go a little more inside. I wanted to show off a little speed.”
On the missed field goal at the end of regulation:
“I ended up on the floor and I looked up and I saw it start to sail, then I closed my eyes and I couldn’t believe what was actually happening, so I just waited for the crowd to cheer. Then I knew they messed up because they gave us another chance. But hats off to NC State. They came in here and fought hard. It’s not easy coming into Death Valley, and they came in here and prepared and really gave us a challenge.”