Shortly after his team’s 14-13 win over 23rd ranked N.C. State Saturday Dabo Swinney told a group of reporters that there is no rule against winning ugly. He said the team has played a lot better and lost.
Essentially, it wasn’t pretty, but Dabo will take it.
There aren’t pictures next to your record, just a column for wins and losses. It wasn’t stylish, but Swinney and the Tigers ended up on the right side of the column Saturday.
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So just how ugly was it? The Tigers fumbled five times during the game. They only lost two of them. At one point the offense gave up three straight sacks. Kyle Parker was benched briefly during the second quarter following an interception. The offense had a touchdown called back at the end of the first half. Richard Jackson missed two field goals. And yet somehow they found a way to win.
Parker finished 20-29 with 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
A strong performance by the defense was enough to carry the day for the Tigers. Every time the offense made a mistake, the defense was there to bail them out. Perhaps the biggest stop came after N.C. State recovered a fumble inside the Clemson 10 yard line and was looking to go up 14-0. The Tiger defense responded with an interception in the end zone. That play got defensive coordinator Kevin Steele so fired up he literally passed out on the side line. Fortunately he didn’t stay down long and was quickly back on his feet coaching his unit.
It was DeAndre McDaniel that intercepted Russel l Wilson’s pass in the end zone. McDaniel and the Tiger defense managed to keep Wilson in check most of the game. He had 212 yards passing and was sacked four times. The Wolfpack scored on its first offensive possession and then had a hard time finding yards the rest of the day.
The special teams also had a big hand in the game. Jarvis Jenkins blocked a field goal, Marcus Gilchrist returned a kickoff 76 yards and on the Tigers final possession late in the game when punter Dawson Zimmerman caught a high snap with one hand and got a rugby style kick off to pin the Wolfpack on its own 15 yard line.
The win improves Clemson’s record to 5-4 and 3-3 in the ACC. The Wolfpack fall to 6-3 and 3-2 in the conference. The Tigers will play at Florida State next Saturday.