Defense lifts Clemson to win against NC State
Clemson struggled on offense the entire game, but the defense kept the Tigers in the game long enough for Kyle Parker to lead them to a comeback win against North Carolina State.
Parker was shaky early and was even benched in the first half after throwing an interception. Dabo Swinney put redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd in the game, but he opted to go back with Parker after Boyd fumbled away a handoff exchange with Jamie Harper.
Parker found freshman DeAndre Hopkins for a 12-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to cut the Wolfpack lead to 10-7. It was Clemson's first offensive touchdown in seven quarters.
After an NC State field goal, Parker drove the Tigers down to the Wolfpack's four yard line. Jamie Harper ran it in on the next play, and Chandler Catanzaro's extra point gave Clemson the 14-13 lead with 6:18 left in the game.
Richard Jackson started for the first time this year because Catanzaro had been struggling, but after Jackson missed two field goals, Swinney went back to the former walk-on for the game-winning extra point.
The one-point lead was all the Clemson defense would need, as it kept Russell Wilson and the Wolfpack offense in check for the last six minutes just as it had for most of the game.
NC State scored early in the first quarter on Russell Wilson's four-yard pass to Mustafa Greene, but they wouldn't find the end zone again. They settled for two field goals, and DeAndre McDaniel intercepted a Wilson pass in NC State's only other red zone trip.
The Tigers held Wilson to just 212 yards on 22-of-36 passing and 29 yards on nine carries, and Greene had just 26 yards on 12 carries.
Parker, who had perhaps his worst game as a Tiger last week, responded well after the benching, going 20-for-29 for 214 yards and a touchdown.
The Clemson running game was ineffective without Andre Ellington, who was out with a sprained ligament in his foot. Harper totaled just 60 yards on 25 carries, but he did catch three passes for 34 yards.
Hopkins caught five balls for 80 yards to lead all Tiger receivers. Marquan Jones had six catches for 47 yards.
The win was Clemson's seventh straight over NC State, it's longest current streak against any ACC opponent.