CLEMSON, S.C. -- N.C. State didn’t hold on to its favored spot in the ACC Atlantic Division for long.
In a game filled with mistakes by both teams, No. 23 N.C. State fell 14-13 to Clemson this afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Jamie Harper’s 4-yard touchdown run with 6 minutes, 18 seconds remaining gave the Tigers the lead for the first time in the game, and Clemson held on to record its seventh straight win over the Wolfpack.
On fourth-and-1 at the Clemson 43-yard line, N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien made a call that’s sure to be debated all week on the radio talk shows. O’Brien elected to punt.
Andy Leffler shanked a 4-yard punt. Clemson took over at its own 39 with 3:18 remaining. The Wolfpack did get the ball back with 2:56 remaining at its own 15, but Russell Wilson’s fourth-down pass was broken up by Coty Sensabaugh with 1:50 remaining at the N.C. State 36.
N.C. State (6-3, 3-2 ACC) had needed only to win its final four games to capture the ACC Atlantic Division title. Now the Wolfpack will need help from other teams.
Clemson (5-4, 3-3) now needs just one more win to become bowl eligible.
N.C. State delivered the only score of the first half on its first drive on a 3-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Mustafa Greene. The drive was kept alive by a controversial third-down pass interference penalty against Corico Hawkins.
Both teams botched numerous opportunities to score after that. Clemson’s Richard Jackson missed a 37-yard field goal attempt, and Tigers quarterback Kyle Parker threw an interception deep in N.C. State territory.
Terrell Manning returned that interception for an apparent touchdown, but the score was called back because of a block-in-the-back penalty. Clemson’s Jarvis Jenkins blocked a 30-yard Josh Czajkowski field goal attempt, and Wilson was intercepted in the end zone by DeAndre McDaniel after the Wolfpack recovered a fumble at the Clemson 7.
The Tigers had a chance to score in the final minute of the first half when they, too, had a touchdown called back because of a penalty. After the holding penalty took away the Clemson's score, J.R. Sweezy and Jeff Rieskamp sacked Kyle Parker on consecutive plays.
Clemson was unable to kick a field goal on fourth down because the clock ran out.
Entering the game, Clemson had allowed just six sacks in eight games. On the Tigers’ first offensive snap of the second half, Sweezy gave N.C. State three sacks in three snaps, causing a Parker fumble in the process.
Rieskamp recovered at the Clemson 13, and the Wolfpack added a 28-yard Czajkowski field goal for a 10-0 lead.
After N.C. State forced a punt, it was the Tigers’ turn to capitalize on a turnover. Hawkins recovered Mustafa Greene’s fumble at the N.C. State 22, and Parker passed 12 yards to Dustin Hopkins for a touchdown.
Wilson converted a third-and-12 with a 31-yard pass to Owen Spencer to set up a 27-yard Czajkowski field goal for a 13-7 N.C. State lead.
But Harper struck back for Clemson, and the Tiger defense stopped N.C. State twice in the final six minutes to win.