Clemson slips past N.C. State|Tigers win sloppy game over Pack
Published 4:12 am Sunday, November 7, 2010
By By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press
CLEMSON, S.C. A promising season at Clemson had come to this: Kyle Parker, the star quarterback who gave up at least $800,000 from the Colorado Rockies for one more season with the Tigers, was riding the bench after another interception.
Coach Dabo Swinney let Parker sit for several plays because of his wildly inconstant play, and even his offensive coordinator figured he was done. But Parker got one more chance, coming back in to rally the Tigers to a 14-13 victory over No. 23 North Carolina State on Saturday.
If theres any game that kind of just represents what this kid had done here with his time at Clemson, I think today pretty much sums that up, Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier. Im proud of him, and he knows that.
The loss was a big blow for the Wolfpacks chances to win the ACC and kept Clemsons faint hopes alive to make the league championship game for a second straight year.
While Parker struggled, his defense kept the Tigers (5-4, 3-3) in it. They held the Wolfpack (6-3, 3-2) to 275 yards, more than 180 yards below their average.
Napier probably felt he needed to praise Parker following the game, especially after a mix-up between Swinney and Napier meant Parker didnt know he was being pulled until he saw backup Tajh Boyd take the field.
That wasnt the only mistake the Tigers made.
They fumbled five times, losing two of them, threw an interception, had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty and missed two short field goals. Punter Dawson Zimmerman got a game ball because he made a one-handed grab on a punt snap that was several feet off target with Clemson clinging to its narrow lead with three minutes to go.
Weve played some good football and lost. Weve had our share of that, said Swinney, who is 3-9 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Its not against the rules to win ugly.
North Carolina State had its share of mistakes. Manning returned an interception for a touchdown, but it was called back for a block in the back. The Wolfpack lost a fumble and got just 13 points from five trips into the Clemson red zone Russell Wilson threw a pick in the end zone and Josh Czajkowski had a 30-yard field goal try blocked.
Czajkowski made field goals of 28 yards and 27 yards, and Wilsons 3-yard TD pass to running back Mustafa Greene provided all the points for a team averaging 37 per game coming in.
It was obvious Clemsons defense shook the faith Wolfpack coach Tom OBrien had in his offense. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Clemson 43 with just over three minutes to go, OBrien decided to punt and pin the Tigers deep. It wound up traveling just 4 yards.
We didnt make it on third-and-1, so I didnt have a lot of faith we were going to make it on fourth-and-1, OBrien said.
Wilson went 22 for 36 for 212 yards and was his teams leading rusher with 29 yards. Seven different North Carolina State players caught passes with tight end George Bryan leading the team with four catches for 51 yards.
Marquan Jones had six catches for 47 yards and DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown for Clemson.
The Wolfpack no longer control their own destiny, but they can still make it to their first ACC title game if they win out and someone knocks off Florida State. Clemson gets the first crack next week. The Tigers also have ACC title game hopes as long as North Carolina State and Florida State lose twice more and Maryland loses at least one more game.
The Wolfpack expect to win out and can shake this loss off fairly easily because they made errors that are easy to correct, defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy said.
There were a lot of mistakes in this ball game today, Sweezy said. It just didnt go our way. Thats the way football is.
Clemson didnt solve a lot of its offensive woes. The running game struggled for just 46 yards with leading rusher Andre Ellington out with a toe injury and backup Jamie Harper fighting a virus that had him throwing up at halftime.
It wasnt enough to keep Harper out of the game as he scored the winning touchdown with a 3-yard run with 6:18 to go.
Its been the kind of year where things are going to happen and I think it really speaks a lot of this team to not quit, Parker said. It would have been extremely easy especially how this game started to pack it in and go home.