It was the kind of offensive onslaught Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris would be proud of. Seven straight possessions with a score. Twenty-seven points in one quarter. That’s what Morris watched on Saturday in Raleigh. Unfortunately for him and the Tigers, it was NC State, not Clemson, doing all the damage.
But the Tigers’ offense helped. State took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter with a 61 yard drive. Then, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd fumbled after being hit from behind while attempting to pass. State recovered at the Clemson six and scored two plays later. On their next series, the Tigers had a big pass play to DeAndre Hopkins wiped out by a holding call on Brandon Thomas. On the next play, Mike Bellamy fumbled taking the pitch on a reverse and State recovered at the Clemson 18. State converted that into a field goal. The Tigers could do nothing on their next possession, and the punt was returned by TJ Graham to the Clemson 11. Two plays later, the Wolfpack are in the end zone again. State needed just 35 yards to score those 17 points, and the Clemson offense was totally to blame.
Boyd finished the night 21-34 for 238 yards. He had no touchdown passes for the first time this season, was sacked five times, and threw two interceptions. He’s thrown six interceptions in the past three games after having just three picks in his first 8 games.
Boyd’s favorite targets were DeAndre Hopkins and Brandon Ford. Each each had 5 catches. Hopkins went for 124 yards and Ford for a career high 77 yards. His 5 catches also are a career high.
The Tigers never got the running game going rushing for a season low 34 yards. They’ve rushed for under 100 yards in three of their last four games. They did play without starting left tackle Phillip Price. His replacement, Brandon Thomas, as well as right tackle Landon Walker, suffered injuries in the game.
The Tiger defense game up 398 yards and never rattled State quarterback Mike Glennon. A 61% passer, Glennon completed 19 of 29 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice. State rushed for 145 yards with James Washington leading the way with 86 yards.
The win is NC State’s first over a top ten team since a 2005 victory over Florida State. It also snaps a seven game losing streak for the Wolfpack against the Tigers. And it was a record setting day for two State players. Cornerback David Amerson tied the ACC record for interceptions in a season with his 11th. And TJ Graham set the ACC career record of kickoff return yardage with 2989.
NC State is now 6-5 and needs to defeat Maryland at home next Saturday to become bowl eligible.