No. 3 Tigers get defensive in road win over Wolfpack

Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and third-ranked Clemson’s defense kept North Carolina State in check for most of the second half in a 26-14 victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Clemson (3-0) has won nine of the last 10 meetings with N.C. State (2-1).

Boyd’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant with 5:25 to go in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 20-7 cushion. The scoring opportunity came after Vic Beasley’s sack and Spencer Shuey’s ensuing fumble recovery set up the Tigers in N.C. State territory.

Bryant caught a 15-yard touchdown pass with 11:27 remaining. Bryant, a junior, had his first multi-touchdown game.

Boyd tied former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke for second place in ACC touchdown passes with 79. Former N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers is first with 95.

Boyd ended up 24 of 37 for 244 passing yards without an interception.

Senior kicker Chandler Catanzaro became Clemson’s career scoring leader with 330 points, kicking two field goals and two extra points.

The outcome marked the first home loss in 15 games as a head coach for Dave Doeren, who is in his first season with the Wolfpack and his third year overall as a head coach after a stint with Northern Illinois.

N.C. State was 0 of 8 on third-down conversions until late in the third quarter.

Wolfpack Kicker Niklas Sade was wide right on a 48-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter. That was N.C. State’s best scoring chance of the second half until a fourth-quarter possession that consumed 23 plays (including four fourth-down conversions) and covered 84 yards, ending on quarterback Pete Thomas’ 4-yard keeper with 3:50 left.

Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle was ejected for a post-whistle personal foul with 1:33 to play.

Clemson led 13-7 at halftime, unable to get totally untracked on offense after averaging 29.5 first-half points in its first two games.

Clemson retook the lead on tight end Sam Cooper’s diving 11-yard touchdown catch from Boyd with 2:23 left in the half. It came one play after Boyd picked up a first down on a fourth-and-1 run.

N.C. State went ahead 7-6 with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter with Shadrach Thornton’s 21-yard touchdown burst up the middle. The Wolfpack traveled 92 yards in seven plays.

Thornton, who was suspended for the opener after a summer arrest and played only on special teams in the second game, was involved in the rushing and passing attacks by the second quarter.

Clemson used 14 plays on the game’s opening possession, resulting in Catanzaro’s 49-yard field goal. N.C. State sacked Boyd twice on the drive.

The Tigers’ next points came three plays into the second quarter on Catanzaro’s 46-yard field goal, capping another 14-play drive.

At that point, Clemson had taken 32 snaps compared to eight for N.C. State, yet the Tigers’ lead was only 6-0.

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