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Oct 28, 2023

Comeback Attempt Falls Short as Clemson Falls to NC State, 24-17


RALEIGH, N.C. – Clemson outscored NC State 10-0 in the fourth quarter but the Tigers’ comeback attempt fell short as NC State defeated Clemson, 24-17, at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday. Clemson dropped to 4-4 (2-4 ACC) while NC State improved to 5-3 (2-2 ACC).

Clemson’s defense held NC State to 202 yards, and the Tigers outgained the Wolfpack, 364-202, but NC State converted two takeaways into 14 points in the Wolfpack’s seven-point win. 

Quarterback Cade Klubnik threw for 263 yards and was 33-of-50 passing on the day. Klubnik found Jake Briningstool for a career-high eight receptions for 93 yards. Phil Mafah stepped up following a second-quarter injury to Will Shipley, as Mafah scored both Clemson touchdowns and rushed for 84 total yards on 16 carries.

NC State took advantage of an early Klubnik interception on its own 40-yard line, scoring first after a 50-yard rush set up a nine-yard touchdown reception from Kevin Concepcion with 7:18 to play in the first quarter. 

NC State extended the lead to 10-0 on a Brayden Narveson 41-yard field goal in the second quarter. On its ensuing drive, Clemson went 75 yards in nine plays as Phil Mafah punched in his career-high fifth touchdown of the season with 8:24 to play before halftime. Klubnik hit on four passes of nine yards or longer during the touchdown drive, including a 28-yarder to Beaux Collins, who made a contested catch on the right sideline. 

Five minutes into the third quarter, the Wolfpack upped their lead to 17-7 when Payton Wilson returned a deflected Klubnik pass 15 yards for a touchdown. NC State scored again on a 72-yard connection from MJ Morris to Concepcion with 4:35 to play in the third quarter, taking a 24-7 lead. 

Early in the fourth quarter, Mafah capped a 10-play 75-yard drive with another one-yard score, which cut the deficit to 24-14. After Clemson’s defense forced a pair of three-and-outs, Mafah jump-started another Clemson scoring drive with a 41-yard gain on the first play of a possession to carry the Tigers to the NC State nine-yard line. A 19-yard field goal by Jonathan Weitz at the end of that possession pulled the score to 24-17.

Clemson forced NC State to punt, giving the Tigers the ball back trailing by seven points with 4:23 left to play in the game. An incompletion on 4th-and-19 kept the score at 24-17 and gave NC State the ball and the eventual victory. 

After playing only one home game in the month of October, the Tigers will return home next week to kickoff a three-game homestand in November when the Tigers face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Nov. 4. An exact kickoff time is still to be announced, though the ACC has indicated options for kickoff time are limited to either noon or 3:30 p.m. ET. Tickets and gameday experiences for Clemson’s remaining three home games at Memorial Stadium remain available here.