Sept. 19, 2006
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Clemson vs. North Carolina Series
Clemson holds a 33-18-1 lead in the series with North Carolina that dates to 1897, the second year of Clemson football. The 1897 game was just the sixth game in Clemson football history and the Tar Heels won that game 28-0. It was the first game for the Tigers against a team that is now in the ACC.
Clemson has won four of the five meetings since Tommy Bowden became the Tigers head coach in 1999. Bowden’s teams have scored at least 31 points in each of the four wins against North Carolina, but just three in the loss. Bowden’s Tigers scored 31 points in a 31-20 win at Death Valley in 1999 against Tar Heel team coached by Carl Torbush. The Tigers won the 2000 game 38-24 behind four touchdown passes by backup quarterback Willie Simmons, who was on for an injured Woody Dantzler. Simmons is now a video graduate assistant with the Clemson football staff.
Clemson was ranked 13th in the nation entering the 2001 meeting with the Tar Heels and Woody Dantzler was coming off the best back to back performances in Clemson history by a Tiger signal caller. He had 418 yards total offense in an overtime win against Georgia Tech and 517 in a win at NC State. Over 84,000 Clemson fans attended that Homecoming game in 2001, but Julius Peppers and the North Carolina defense had a plan to stop Dantzler and held him to a season low 127 total yards rushing and passing in a 38-3 North Carolina win. That Tar Heel team went on to defeat Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
Charlie Whitehurst threw four touchdown passes in a 42-12 Clemson win at North Carolina in 20-02. Tye Hill had the only 100-yard rushing day of his career in that victory. The next year Hill moved to defense and he is now a starting cornerback with the St. Louis Rams.
Clemson has won 17 of the last 23 meetings in the series. The Tigers have a 16-7 lead in games played at Clemson and Death Valley, and a 15-10-1 advantage in games in Chapel Hill, including a 14-9-1 lead in games at Keenan Stadium.
The landmark game of the series took place at North Carolina in 1981. The Tigers won that contest 10-8 behind an outstanding defense led by Jeff Davis and Jeff Bryant. It was the first meeting of top 10 ACC teams in the history of the conference, as Clemson was undefeated and ranked second in the nation entering the contest, while the Tar Heels were 7-1 and ranked eighth.. Jeff Bryant recovered a North Carolina lateral with a minute left to clinch the victory for the Tigers, a key win in Clemson’s National Championship season.
Tigers from the Tar Heel State
Clemson has just three players on its travel roster from the state of North Carolina. C.J. Gaddis of Raeford, NC, a starting cornerback, Crezdon Butler, a reserve cornerback from Asheville, NC, and Antwon Murchison, a reserve defensive tackle from Aberdeen, NC are the three Tigers on the travel roster from the Tar Heel state. Chris Hairston is a freshman from Winston-Salem, NC and Carver High School who is also on the Clemson roster. The freshman offensive lineman will be red-shirted this season.
Last Meeting was a Thriller
Clemson won the last meeting between the Tigers and the Tar Heels by a 36-28 score on October 25, 2003. It was an eight-point margin, but the decision came down to virtually the last play of the game. Clemson gained 528 yards of total offense, 309 passing and 219 rushing, but still had to have a great play by its defense to save the game. Clemson has never lost a game in which it has gained 500 yards of total offense, but the streak nearly ended on this day in Death Valley.
Clemson held the 36-28 lead when North Carolina took over the ball with three minutes left. Devin Durant, now a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, completed five consecutive passes and also scrambled twice for first downs on the drive. On second-and-six from the Clemson 14, he ran to the left and appeared to have his sights set on a tying touchdown.
But, he was hit hard by Travis Pugh and Jamaal Fudge and the ball popped loose. The ball carried across the goal line into the endzone where David Dunham recovered for a touchback with just 42 seconds remaining. Fudge had quite a day for the Tigers with an interception return of 21 yards and seven tackles. LeRoy Hill added 11 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Charlie Whitehurst completed 18-34 passes for 309 yards to lead the offense.
There are 16 current Clemson players who played in the 2003 game against North Carolina. The list alphabetically includes Duane Coleman, Jad Dean, Dustin Fry, Roman Fry, Sergio Gilliam, Thomas Hunter, Reggie Merriweather, Brandon Pilgrim, Brent Smith, Chansi Stuckey, and Anthony Waters. Billie and Waters are injured and will not play against North Carolina.
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