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NC State fends off Clemson for 24-17 upset win


Clemson v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Explosive plays matter. That’s it, really. We saw it when State was in Durham, when we were on the other side of it, and we saw today exactly what kind of boost they can provide.

NC State beat Clemson by making fewer big mistakes, by taking advantage of the big ones, and by hitting on the occasional big offensive play. In the first half, that was KC Concepcion, who took an off-tackle handoff for 50-plus to set up State’s first touchdown.

State’s two other touchdowns: a 72-yard run by Concepcion after a missed tackle on a slant play, and a Payton Williams pick six. NC State got out-gained in this game 364-202 yet held a three-score advantage heading into the fourth quarter, which goes beyond improbable, but those were the conditions.

Clemson not surprisingly made this a game in those last 15 minutes, but the Tigers lack the playmakers they used to have, and their last-minute drive died on the vine. Who knows what might have been different if the Tigers had not thrown a couple of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, but that’s their season in a nutshell—pretty good, but cataclysmically stupid.

It’s a great relief to play a game against a Clemson team that brought exactly that brand to town. It was surprisingly fun, too. Can you imagine what a meltdown they’re having right now?