A closer look at four key plays in No. 3 Clemson’s victory against N.C. State:
Score: 0-0, early first quarter.
Situation: Clemson ball, third-and-11 from N.C. State 21.
The play: N.C. State defensive end Art Norman sacks Tajh Boyd for loss of 11.
Why it mattered: Clemson had moved from its 25 to the Wolfpack 20 before its opening drive stalled. Norman’s sack kept Clemson out of the end zone and nearly forced the Tigers out of field goal range. Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 49-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Score: Clemson 6, N.C. State 0, 11:03 second quarter.
Situation: N.C. State ball, first-and-15 on Clemson 21.
The play: Draw to Shadrach Thornton, who burst through huge hole up the middle and carried two Clemson defenders into the end zone.
Why it mattered: The Wolfpack drive started at its 8. It drove to Clemson’s 16 before a false start made it first-and-15. Thornton, who had a 32-yard catch and run earlier in the drive, immediately erased the Wolfpack’s mistake and gave N.C. State a 7-6 lead.
Score: Clemson 13, N.C. State 7, 7:43 third quarter.
Situation: N.C. State ball, first-and-10 on its 17.
The play: Reverse to Bryan Underwood, who went untouched around the right side for what looked like an 83-yard touchdown. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the Clemson 47. Replays appeared to show Underwood stayed inbounds. N.C. State could not challenge the call because the play ended with the official’s whistle.
Why it mattered: N.C. State came within about 2 inches and 2 seconds from 2 touchdowns. In the first half, N.C. State corner Juston Burris intercepted a Boyd pass and returned it for a touchdown, but that play didn’t count because Clemson called timeout just before the snap. Underwood scored on this play, but stepped out. N.C. State eventually fumbled on that drive, setting up a Clemson touchdown to make it 20-7.
Score: Clemson 20, N.C. State 7, 11:27 fourth quarter.
Situation: Clemson ball, third-and-7 on N.C. State 15.
The play: Boyd rolls right, hits Martavis Bryant for a touchdown pass near the sideline.
Why it mattered: The Wolfpack needed to hold the Tigers to a field goal, but Bryant beat one-on-one coverage in the corner for Boyd’s 79th career touchdown pass, tying him with Chris Weinke for second all-time in the ACC. Clemson missed the two-point conversion but, leading 26-7, the damage was done.