Dabo PC Part 1:
CLEMSON, S.C. - 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.
CLEMSON TEAM NOTES
• Clemson gained its 43rd consecutive win over an unranked team (either poll). The last loss was to NC State in Raleigh in 2011.
• It was also Clemson’s 43rd straight win over an unranked opponent in Memorial Stadium. That streak dates to Dabo Swinney’s first game as interim coach, when Georgia Tech defeated Clemson 21-17 on Oct. 18, 2008.
• This was Clemson’s fifth straight win over NC State and 12th in the last 13 games.
• This was Clemson’s 20th straight win at home (already a school record), the longest active streak in the nation.
• This was Clemson’s 21st consecutive regular-season victory and 24th consecutive win in a non-national championship game.
• This was Clemson’s 13th consecutive win over an ACC opponent.
• This was Dabo Swinney’s 50th win in Death Valley. He is 50-6 as Clemson’s head coach at home.
• This was the 42nd win for this Clemson senior class, tied for the second-most wins in school history with the 2014 seniors. The 2015 seniors hold the record with 46 wins.
• Clemson moves to 7-0 for the season. This is just the sixth 7-0 start in Clemson history and the third under Dabo Swinney. The Tigers started 8-0 in 2011 and 14-0 in 2015.
• Saturday’s game marked the first overtime contest in Death Valley since Sept. 24, 2005 (vs. Boston College) and just the sixth overtime game ever in Memorial Stadium.
• Clemson is 7-6 all-time in overtime games, 2-2 in overtime games under Dabo Swinney and 3-3 in home overtime games.
• With Carlos Watkins’ sack on the final play of the first half, Clemson’s defense has now recorded at least one sack in each of the last 37 games.
• Clemson’s 52 passing attempts (all by Deshaun Watson) is the most by a Clemson team since Oct. 6, 2007 (loss vs. Virginia Tech, 67 attempts)
• The Tigers moved to 15-2 in games decided by seven points or less since 2011.
CLEMSON INDIVIDUAL NOTES
• Deshaun Watson raised his record as a starting quarterback to 25-2. He joins Rodney Williams (32), Tajh Boyd (32) and Charlie Whitehurst (25) as the only 25-game winners in Clemson history.
• Deshaun Watson’s game-winning touchdown pass was his 39th completion of the game, setting a Clemson single-game record for completions (38, Cullen Harper vs Virginia Tech, 2007).
• Saturday was Deshaun Watson’s 12th career game with at least one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown.
• Watson set a season high in passing yards (378) on 52 attempts, a career-high.
• With 413 yards of total offense, Deshaun Watson passed Woodrow Dantzler and moved into third on Clemson’s career total offense list (1,584 rushing yards, 7,520 passing yards, 9,104 total yards).
• Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins took a direct snap on a fake punt in the second quarter and ran 10 yards for a first down, his first career rush.
• Wilkins blocked an NC State field-goal attempt in the third quarter, Clemson’s first blocked field goal since Jayron Kearse blocked a Syracuse attempt last season.
• Marcus Edmond picked off Ryan Finley on NC State’s first play in overtime for his first career interception. Edmond also stopped Louisville on fourth down to save the game for the Tigers on October 1.
• K’von Wallace picked up his first career interception on a ball tipped by Ryan Carter in the second quarter. It was the first interception all season thrown by NC State quarterback Ryan Finley.
• Despite just two carries in the game, Gallman passed Terry Allen and moved into seventh on Clemson’s career rushing leaders list (2,785 career rushing yards).
• Hunter Renfrow had a five-yard reception in the second quarter, his first catch since the Troy game. He missed the previous four games due to injury.
• Renfrow finished Saturday’s game with a season-high six catches and 53 yards.
• Jadar Johnson set a career high in tackles with seven (six in the first half).
• Mike Williams has now caught a touchdown pass in four straight games (13-yard catch from Watson in the second quarter).
• Williams set a career high with 12 catches. Williams is the first Tiger with double-digit catches since Artavis Scott had 12 receptions against Syracuse in 2015.
• Deshaun Watson had his first rushing touchdown of the season in the third quarter.
• C.J. Fuller set a career high for carries (16) and rushing yards (56).
• Ben Boulware had 10 tackles, giving him double-digit tackles in four-straight games.
• Artavis Scott’s 10-yard touchdown catch marked the Tigers’ first game-winning catch in overtime since Jacoby Ford’s 26-yard touchdown grab from Kyle Parker at Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 24, 2009.
“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
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.”
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 - DEFENSE
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.”
On facing adversity late in the fourth quarter:
“We have so much pride, and the thing about our team is that we never believe that we can’t win. Even with that last field goal, we just believed that we would either block it or he was going to miss it. I love everybody that plays offense and defense. I have some great teammates.”
On being back on the field:
“It was great to be able to get my legs back up under me. This is essentially my first game back, so it was just really good to get back on the field.”
On his physical health:
“I feel good. I’m really close to 100 percent, but not quite there yet. It feels good to get back in the swing of things today and this week. I’m really looking forward to the bye week, progressing more, and then cutting it loose against Florida State.”