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Tigers Top Tar Heels, 36-28

Tigers Top Tar Heels, 36-28

Oct 25, 2003

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CLEMSON, S.C. – Receiver Derrick Hamilton had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and caught a 69-yard scoring pass to lead Clemson past North Carolina 36-28 Saturday.

The Tigers (5-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell behind 28-23 in the third quarter on Darian Durant’s 63-yard touchdown run before Hamilton struck with his own electrifying play.

Hamilton fielded the kick with a foot in the end zone, started right then cut left past North Carolina’s Lionel Green and outraced Dexter Reid down the sidelines for the go-ahead score.

The Tar Heels (1-7, 0-4), who trailed 13-0 after one quarter, tried to rally one last time. Durant looked as if he was heading for a touchdown when he was hit by safety Jamaal Fudge inches from goal. The ball flipped into the end zone and was covered by Clemson’s David Dunham with 42 seconds remaining.

North Carolina coach John Bunting shook hands with Clemson’s Tommy Bowden, then headed straight for the officials and angrily pointed his fingers as they ran off the field.

It’s no wonder he was frustrated. This was the second straight near-miss for North Carolina, which fell 33-31 on a late touchdown pass by Arizona State last week. The Tar Heels lost for the 10th time in 11 conference games.

Hamilton began Clemson’s scoring with his first-quarter TD catch from Charlie Whitehurst. The two also connected on a 30-yard pass to the 1 on fourth-and-7 that set up Whitehurst’s scoring sneak a play later.

Durant, a native of South Carolina, almost singlehandedly beat the Tigers here as a freshman, going 11-of-11 with a TD pass and rushing for two scores in a 38-3 win. He had a bit more trouble this time, throwing three interceptions and fumbling at the end. Durant finished 19-for-31 for 208 yards and a touchdown pass. He also had 110 yards rushing.

And when he broke through the middle of Clemson’s defense untouched for his long TD run, Durant looked as if he would be the hero again.

Hamilton and Whitehurst stole those roles.

Along with his second career kickoff return for a touchdown, Hamilton had 102 yards receiving on three catches. Whitehurst went 18-for-34 for 309 yards and no interceptions.

The Tigers also had their first 100-yard rusher of the season as sophomore Duane Coleman gained 111 yards on 13 carries.

Aaron Hunt added three field goals for the Tigers, including a 41-yarder as time ran out at the half to put them ahead 16-14.