NC State used a career-high 178 yards from running back T.A. McClendon along with strong defense and special teams to defeat Clemson 38-6 before 74,000 fans in Death Valley on Thursday night.
Clemson drove into NC State territory on its first possession of the fourth quarter before facing 4th-and-2. Quarterback Willie Simmons scrambled 11 yards for a first down, but he fumble and the ball was recovered by the Wolfpack. NC State drove all the way for another score on a T.A. McClendon touchdown run. The touchdown gave the Wolfpack a 32-0 lead.
NC State’s good night continued when Wynn Kopp’s onside kick attempt bounced perfectly into the arms of Jerricho Cotchery, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. Kiker missed the extra point, so the final margin was 38-6. A final Clemson drive was thwarted when backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was sacked and fumbled, which was recovered by the Wolfpack.
Clemson finally got on the board on the ensuing kickoff. Justin Miller and Derrick Hamilton ran into each other trying to field the kickoff, but Miller picked up the ball and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. The return was his first of the season and it is the shortest kickoff return for a touchdown in Clemson history. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, making the final margin 32-6
The Clemson offense started the second half strong and drove 73 yards to the Wolfpack 17-yard line. But quarterback Willie Simmons was stuffed on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1. NC State capitalized on the next play, a 65-yard run McClendon run to the Clemson 18-yard line.
The Tiger defense stopped the drive inside the 20, but a late hit penalty on third down gave the Wolfpack new life. NC State kicked a 26-yard field goal three plays later to go ahead 25-0. NC State took the ball across midfield before McClendon fumbled a handoff and Clemson linebacker Eric Sampson recovered. But NC State got the ball right back three players later when Terrence Holt intercepted a pass on the Wolfpack 22-yard line.
NC State delivered a crushing blow less than two minutes into the second quarter. Facing 4th-and-1 from the Clemson 31-yard line, Philip Rivers handed off to freshman running back T.A. McClendon, who leaped over a pile at the line of scrimmage and stayed on his feet to go all the way for a score. The extra point put the Wolfpack ahead 15-0.
Clemson misfired when it got the ball back when on 3rd down, quarterback Willie Simmons fumbled the snap and it was recovered by NC State’s Holt on the Clemson 17-yard line. The Wolfpack capitalized and scored on a Rivers’ 1-yard touchdown. The score put NC State ahead 22-0 with 10:15 remaining in the half.
Charlie Whitehurst, but the redshirt freshman threw an interception on his second pass that was returned by Rod Johnson to the Tiger 13-yard line. The Clemson defense came up big when Brian Mance picked off a Rivers’ pass in the endzone. It was Mance’s fifth of the year and 11th of his career, moving into sixth place on Clemson’s all-time list.
After a three-and-out by the Clemson offense, NC State drove to the Tiger 30-yard line. Mance broke up a pass on fourth down to give the offense another chance before halftime, but it went three-and-out again. NC State ran out the clock to take a 22-0 halftime lead.
NC State started the game with a 56-yard return and moved the ball inside the Tiger 20-yard line. But the defense held an Adam Kiker’s 32-yard attempt bounced off the left upright and was no good.
The Wolfpack broke on the board late in the quarter thanks to its special teams. Manny Lawson came right up the middle to block Wynn Kopp’s punt and Terrence Holt scooped up the ball and returned it 52 yards to the endzone. NC State then used a quick snap and holder Chris Young ran the ball in for a two-point conversion that made it an 8-0 lead.
NC State had the ball on the Clemson 38-yard line at the turn of the quarter.
Wynn Kopp’s tries to get off the punt. Altroy Bodrickbreaks up the pass. Philip Rivers tries to handoff to T.A.McClendon.
Yusef Kelly grinds for more yards.
Eric Sampson closes in on McClendon.
Justin Miller picks up the ball and goes 80 yards for the TD.
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