CLEMSON, SC (AP) – DJ Uiagalelei ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third as No. 5 Clemson won its 11th straight game, 37th straight at home and took control of the ACC Atlantic with a victory by 30-20 over the no. 10 North Carolina State on Saturday night.
The Tigers (3-0 ACC) started 5-0 for the seventh time in eight years and completed a two-week stretch in which they beat the two teams thought most likely to block their return to the top of the division, first with a 51-45 OT. win at No. 22 Wake Forest last Saturday and now the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1) in Death Valley.
Uiagalelei ignited the Tigers just before and just after halftime to build a lead that NC State, playing in its first Top 10 matchup, could not overcome.
Uiagalelei capped a 75-yard scoring drive by running the ball over the field for a 1-yard score to move ahead 13-10. Then, after Clemson’s defense forced a three-and-out with a pair of sacks on ‘Pack quarterback Devin Leary, Uiagalelei cashed in again with a 7-yard touchdown throw to tight end Jake Briningstool.
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Clemson’s defense did the rest, holding the high-powered Wolfpack to just one field goal over the first 29 minutes of the second half to build a 17-point lead. The Tigers also picked off Leary and recovered a fumble when NC State went for it on 4th-and-13-10 with less than nine minutes remaining.
Clemson, which hasn’t lost at home since November 2016, matched Florida State’s ACC mark of 37 home runs from 1992 to 2001. The Tigers’ streak is 11 dating back to last season in the longest current streak in the FBS.
Clemson also has division ties over the Demon Deacons and Wolfpack.
Clemson and NC State came in with two of the ACC’s top-scoring offenses and thought they were trading trips to the end zone. Instead, each struggled to find points in the first 30 minutes.
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Wolfpack and preseason ACC Player of the Year Devin Leary topped the first with a 2-yard TD run to tight end Cedd Seabrough late in the second quarter to go up 10-6 with less than two minutes remaining.
That’s when Uiagalelei got things going with his scoring streak to send the Tigers into halftime ahead 13-10 instead of trailing. He sealed the win with a 9-yard touchdown run with 3:04 to play. Uiagalelei completed 21 of 30 passes for 209 yards and ran for a team-high 73 yards.
Leary completed 28 of 47 passes for 245 yards and an interception. He also rushed for a 4-yard TD with less than a minute left as the Wolfpack finished with its fewest points this season.
THE TAKE AWAY
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack has a ton of talented players, but in that time it got bogged down around halftime to allow both of Clemson’s touchdowns. NC State now has to cross its fingers that the Tigers lose twice in their last five ACC games.
Clemson: The Tigers have had to prove their offense was legitimate all season, and while they didn’t put up the points like they did in their first four games, they made enough plays to once again show themselves as the best ACC contender.
Starting defensive tackle Bryan Bresee missed his second game in the last three after dealing with a non-football medical condition that Clemson said involved blood work and observation. Bresee and her family are still grieving 15-year-old Ella Bresee, who died of brain cancer last month and has been an inspiration to her brother’s team with the catchphrase “Ella Strong.” Bryan Bresee received good news about testing later this week and his condition won’t have a long-term impact, Clemson said.
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UNTIL THE NEXT
North Carolina plays No. 23 Florida State at home next Saturday.
Clemson goes to Boston College next Saturday night.