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Boyd leads No. 3 Clemson past NC State in ACC opener

Sep 20, 2013 - 6:43 AM Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Tajh Boyd had three touchdown passes to help No. 3 Clemson to a 26-14 win over North Carolina State on Thursday night.

Boyd finished the game 24-for-37 for 244 yards and added 38 yards on 13 carries for the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC), who were coming off a bye week after opening the season with wins over Georgia and South Carolina State.

"I am proud of our guys," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "The goal is to be 3-0 right now and that is where we are. We have nine more to go."

Martavis Bryant caught two of Boyd's scoring passes and finished the game with six catches for 73 yards, while Sammy Watkins had 10 catches for 96 yards in the win.

Pete Thomas was 20-for-36 for 213 yards and an interception while running in a touchdown for the Wolfpack (2-1, 0-1), who were also playing after a bye week that came after wins over Louisiana Tech and Richmond to open the season.

"It was a hard fought game," North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren remarked. "I thought our players competed hard. I'm proud of the way they competed tonight."

Clemson started the game with the ball and ran off five minutes over 14 plays, but the team only managed to move the ball 43 yards and resorted to a 49-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro for a 3-0 lead.

The score stayed that way until the opening minute of the second quarter, as Catanzaro capped off another 14-play drive with a 45-yard field goal.

North Carolina State answered on its ensuing possession as Shadrach Thornton took a handoff up the middle and dragged a couple of tacklers with him into the end zone on a 21-yard score and a 7-6 lead with 11:03 to play in the half.

With 5:10 left in the half and the ball at their own 44, the Tigers quickly got past midfield on a 28-yard catch from Watkins. Facing a 4th-and-1, Boyd ran for seven yards and the next play saw his toss over the middle caught just inside the end zone by Sam Cooper for an 11-yard score and a 13-7 lead with 2:23 left in the half.

Just past the midway mark of the third quarter, Clemson got the ball back near midfield and a 20-yard catch from Bryant followed by a 6-yard run from Boyd helped the team recover from a 12-yard loss on first down. Boyd then lofted a pass down the left sideline that hit Bryant in the end zone for a 30-yard score and a 20-7 lead with 5:25 to play in the third.

Following a long drive from North Carolina State that saw the team come away empty-handed as Niklas Sade missed a 48-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, Clemson took advantage to pad its advantage.

The 10-play 68-yard drive saw the team convert two third downs and facing a 3rd-and-7 at the NCST 15, Boyd threw a pass to the right that saw Bryant outleap a defender for the score. The 2-point conversion failed and it was a 26-7 game with 11:27 to play.

The Wolfpack came back with a drive that covered an amazing 23 plays and lasted over 7 1/2 minutes. The team converted four fourth downs during the 84- yard march and Thomas finished it off with a 4-yard run into the end zone to make it a 26-14 game with 3:50 to play.

Game Notes

Roderick McDowell led all rushers with 68 yards on 14 carries for Clemson ... Clemson totaled 415 yards to 378 for North Carolina State, but the Wolfpack controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes ... Clemson has won nine of the last 10 games against North Carolina State and leads the all-time series, 53-28-1 ... North Carolina State hosts Central Michigan next Saturday ... Clemson hosts Wake Forest next Saturday.