Boyd's 3 TD passes lead No. 3 Clemson
Raleigh, N.C. • Tajh Boyd threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 3 Clemson beat North Carolina State 26-14 on Thursday night.
Boyd's second scoring pass, a 30-yarder to Martavis Bryant, capped a critical third-quarter sequence that allowed the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to seize momentum in front of a hostile crowd.
Clemson pulled away from there. Boyd found Bryant for another touchdown, with Bryant snatching the ball from defender Niles Clark for a 15-yard score that helped the Tigers blow the game open early in the fourth.
Sammy Watkins added 10 catches for 96 yards on a night when Clemson's explosive offense didn't manage many big plays yet finished with 415 yards.
Shadrach Thornton scored the Wolfpack's first touchdown on a 21-yard run in the second. N.C. State (2-1, 0-1) led 7-6 at that point but couldn't complete the upset in coach Dave Doeren's first league game.
The Tigers entered Raleigh with their highest ranking in 25 years and a prime spot in the national championship chase. They also came with memories of their inexplicably bad performance here two seasons earlier, when the Wolfpack scored 27 second-quarter points en route to a 37-13 rout of the then-No. 7 Tigers.
N.C. State followed that win with an upset of No. 3 Florida State here last year, and Doeren the former Northern Illinois coach said that history gave his veterans confidence they could do it again.
But N.C. State's hopes of beating a top-10 team at home for the third straight season essentially ended in a frustrating sequence midway through the third.
Receiver Bryan Underwood, who stepped out along the sideline earlier in the game to cut short a long run, took a handoff around the right side and sprinted for what appeared to be an 83-yard touchdown to tie the game at 13. But officials ruled Underwood stepped on the sideline at the Clemson 47 and blew the play dead, making it an unreviewable play TV replays appeared to show him remaining inbounds that led to boos raining down from the Carter-Finley Stadium stands.
Three plays later, Clemson's Vic Beasley knocked the ball loose from Pete Thomas on a sack for a fumble recovered by Spencer Shuey. Boyd and the Tigers' offense pounced on the opportunity, with Boyd connecting with Bryant for the 30-yard score that made it 20-7 with 5:25 left in the quarter.