Sept. 22, 2007
Final Stats | AP Photo Gallery
Postgame Notes | Additional Photo Gallery (courtesy of Zach Hanby)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -All Clemson’s dynamic backfield duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller needed to get their groove back was a game against the one team that can never catch them.
Davis and Spiller each caught a touchdown pass, ran for another and set a season high for yards rushing Saturday, and the 15th-ranked Tigers gained 608 total yards in a 42-20 rout of North Carolina State.
“We knew we had to come here and run the ball, and that was kind of the demeanor all week,” Davis said. “One thing we had to do was establish the running game, and we did that today.”
Davis rushed for a season-high 166 yards with a 3-yard touchdown catch and a 1-yard scoring run, while Spiller – a week after Furman held him to minus-1 yard – finished with 114 yards with an 11-yard TD catch and a 44-yard scoring run. They helped Clemson rush for 340 yards, its most in an Atlantic Coast Conference game since 2000.
“The holes might have been a little bit bigger today than they possibly were in some of the other games that we played,” coach Tommy Bowden said. “That kind of helps your vision. … It did look like they made some good cuts and, as they say, saw the cars on the freeway.”
Clemson (4-0, 2-0) dominated from the opening kickoff, scoring on four of its first five possessions and at one point outgaining the Wolfpack 220-1. But after starting with four wins for the first time since 2000, the Tigers kept things subdued – clearly mindful of their meltdown last year when they lost four of five to end the season.
“They don’t hand out trophies for 4-0,” Bowden said. “Let’s see if we can get to 5-0.”
Cullen Harper was unshaken and efficient in his first career road start, completing 25-of-39 passes for 268 yards – 2 yards shy of his career high – with touchdown passes to both tailbacks. Mark Buchholz kicked four field goals for the Tigers, who more than tripled the Wolfpack’s 202 total yards.
“We’re not a very good football team. It’s pretty obvious after today,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “They could’ve done whatever they wanted to today. We didn’t tackle them. We didn’t stop them.”
Darrell Blackman returned a kickoff a school-record 99 yards for a touchdown and caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Daniel Evans, and Andre Brown ran 17 yards for a TD for N.C. State (1-3, 0-2).
The Wolfpack have lost 10 straight games against Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) teams and dropped their fourth straight in the series known as the “Textile Bowl.”
“It’s hard to have positives when you get beat like this,” O’Brien said.
Evans came off the bench and completed 16-of-25 passes for 123 yards with one touchdown and one interception in relief of Harrison Beck, a Nebraska transfer who injured his knee when he was sacked in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Spiller was the show early by bouncing back from one of the worst games of his career, and joined his backfield mate in yet another productive performance against the Wolfpack, who last year allowed him to rush for a then-career-best 154 yards. A year earlier, N.C. State allowed Davis to run for 143 yards.
“He’s still developing,” Davis said of Spiller. “I’m going to keep working on him in practice, just to keep his mind right.”
This time, Spiller’s first rushing touchdown of the season came late in the first quarter, when he took a handoff, headed right and then cut back to the left to give the Tigers a 17-7 lead.
Earlier, Harper connected with Spiller to give Clemson an early 7-0 lead, before Blackman tied things with his record return.
He fielded Buchholz’s kickoff near the hashmarks at the 1 and cut right, slipping two tackles before dashing down the right sideline and into the end zone.
Buchholz’s first field goal, a 28-yarder that capped the next drive, put the Tigers up 10-7 and gave them the lead for good.
He converted from 46 yards out on the final play of the first half – which came after his bad miss from 51 yards out was nullified by an offsides call on N.C. State. He added kicks of 29 yards in the third and 25 yards in the fourth.
After Blackman’s fourth-quarter touchdown catch made it 37-20, N.C. State went for two. Michael Hamlin intercepted Evans’ pass in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for the first defensive two-point conversion in school history.
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