If this Clemson Tigers team has nine lives this season it used up just about all of them against N.C. State Saturday afternoon.
Wolfpack kicker Kyle Bambard missed a 33-yard field goal at the end of regulation and Deshaun Watson connected with Artavis Scott for a 10-yard touchdown pass in overtime as the third-ranked Tigers survived with a 24-17 win over State.
The Wolfpack had a chance to answer in overtime, but on the first play Ryan Finley’s pass was intercepted by Marcus Edmond in the end zone to end the game.
“There’s something to be said for finding a way to win, and that’s all I can say,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s not always pretty and you have to win games like that along the way. At the end of the day, you have to love the fight of this team and their ‘never quit’ attitude.”
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Bambard missed two other field goals earlier in the game, including one that was blocked by Christian Wilkins.
The victory improves Clemson to 15-2 in games decided by seven points or less since 2011.
“It’s all about faith,” Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson said. “There was a little bit of pressure on the kicker. He had already missed one and had one blocked. We knew the pressure was on them.”
Clemson won despite turning the ball over four times, including twice inside the Wolfpack 10. N.C. State had 10 drives end in Clemson territory and scored points on only three of them.
“It was not a moral victory...we could have won that game,” State coach Dave Doeren said. “We were one play away from having a masterpiece today, and we just didn’t.”
The Tigers led 10-3 at the break as Watson connected with Mike Williams for a 13-yard touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
N.C. State tied the game on the first play of the second half when Watson threw an interception and it was returned 28 yards for a touchdown by Mike Stevens.
Clemson regained the lead on Watson’s 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter before the Wolfpack responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game.
After Clemson was forced to punt, N.C. State got the ball back at its own 29 with 6:39 remaining and drove to the Clemson 12 before settling for a field goal attempt from the 16 on second down.
The Wolfpack ran out the clock late to set up the field goal try instead of trying to put the ball in the end zone, which surprised Swinney.
“I really thought they were going to try to score,” he said.
Watson finished 39 of 52 passing for 378 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Williams caught 12 passes for 146 yards and the score.
The Tigers struggled to get anything going on the ground as Wayne Gallman suffered a concussion and fumbled on Clemson’s first series.
Dayes led the Wolfpack offense with 106 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
Kyle Bambard’s 33-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation would have ended the game but sailed wide right and gave Clemson all of the momentum entering overtime.
Star of the game: Christian Wilkins: The sophomore defensive lineman had four tackles, blocked a field goal and rushed for 10 yards on a fake punt. The 10-yard run tied for Clemson’s long run of the day.
Play of the game: Marcus Edmond ran stride-for-stride with N.C. State receiver Bra’Lon Cherry on Clemson’s first defensive play of overtime, perfectly timed his jump and came up with the interception to win the game.
Stat of the game: 9: Clemson had four turnovers Saturday and has nine turnovers in its past two home games but has managed to win both games.
Sloppiness can’t continue: Clemson was once again sloppy with the ball on Saturday with four turnovers, including two inside the Wolfpack 10. That can’t continue for the Tigers to have the season they are hoping to.
Bye comes at a good time: Wayne Gallman suffered a concussion, Hunter Renfrow was banged up in the second half, and Jalen Williams and Austin Bryant still aren’t 100 percent. A week off before a matchup at Florida State will be good for Clemson.
Crowd made a difference: N.C. State committed 13 penalties, six of which were false starts.
Who: Clemson at Florida State
When: Saturday, Oct. 29 (Time: TBA)
Where: Tallahassee, Fla.
HOW THEY SCORED
CLE: FG Huegel 25, 1:17
NCST: FG Bambard 28, 2:03
CLE: M.Williams 13 pass from Watson (Huegel kick), :10
NCST: Mi.Stevens 28 interception return (Bambard kick), 14:51
CLE: Watson 4 run (Huegel kick), 1:03
NCST: Dayes 2 run (Bambard kick), 11:29
CLE: A.Scott 10 pass from Watson (Huegel kick), :00
Time of Possession
RUSHING: NC State, Dayes 22-106, Finley 9-24, McClendon 1-(minus 2). Clemson, Fuller 16-56, Watson 13-35, Gallman 2-14, Choice 5-14, Wilkins 1-10, Dye 1-(minus 3), (Team) 1-(minus 9).
PASSING: NC State, McClendon 0-1-0-0, Locklear 1-1-0-38, Finley 20-40-2-231. Clemson, Watson 39-52-1-378.
RECEIVING: NC State, Samuels 8-100, Hines 3-65, Harmon 3-42, Louis 3-31, Dayes 3-27, Cherry 1-4. Clemson, M.Williams 12-146, Renfrow 6-53, R.McCloud 6-51, Leggett 5-56, A.Scott 4-23, Cain 2-17, Gallman 1-18, Dye 1-11, Thompson 1-8, Fuller 1-(minus 5).
MISSED FIELD GOALS: NC State, Bambard 43, Bambard 37, Bambard 33.