CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — DJ Uiagalelei rushed for two touchdowns and threw for a third as No. 5 Clemson won his 11th straight game, 37th straight at home and took control of the ACC Atlantic with a 30-20 win over 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 outscored the two teams thought most likely to block their return to the top of the division. , first a 51-45 OT win at No. 22 Wake Forest last Saturday and now the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1) at Death Valley.
Uiagalelei fired up the Tigers just before and after the half to build a lead that NC State, playing in their first Top 10 matchup, couldn’t overcome.
Uiagalelei finished a 75-yard touchdown drive by stretching the ball over the goal for a 1-yard touchdown to go 13-10. Then, after the Clemson defense forced a 3-pointer and went with a pair of sacks on ‘Pack quarterback Devin Leary, Uiagalelei cashed in again with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Briningstool.
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Clemson’s defense did the rest, holding the mighty Wolfpack to just one field goal over the first 29 minutes of the second half to build a 17-point lead. The Tigers also intercepted Leary and recovered a fumble when NC State chased him on 4-for-13 with less than nine minutes left.
Clemson, who hasn’t lost at home since November 2016, tied Florida State’s ACC mark of 37 straight home games between 1992 and 2001. The Tigers’ 11 straight since last season in the longest current streak in the FBS .
Clemson also has tiebreakers in the division over the Demon Deacons and the Wolfpack.
Clemson and NC State came in with two of the highest-scoring infractions in the ACC and thought to trade trips to the end zone every time. Instead, it was difficult for each to find points in the first 30 minutes.
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Wolfpack and preseason ACC Player of the Year Devin Leary broke through first with a 2-yard TD to tight end Cedd Seabrough late in the second quarter to go up 10-6 with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
That’s when Uiagalelei got things rolling with his scoring run to send the Tigers into halftime up 13-10 instead of trailing. He sealed the victory with a 9-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining. Uiagalelei completed 21 of 30 passes for 209 yards and rushed 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 their fewest points this season.
THE TO GO
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack has a lot of talented players, but it rocked out right 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 legit all season, and while they didn’t rack up the points like they did in their first four games, they made enough plays to show themselves once again as the top contender in the ACC.
Starting defensive tackle Bryan Bresee missed his second game of the last three after dealing with a non-football-related medical condition that Clemson said involved blood tests and observation. Bresee and his family are still mourning Ella Bresee, 15, who died of brain cancer last month and has been an inspiration to her brother’s team with the phrase “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 NEXT TIME
North Carolina plays No. 23 Florida State at home next Saturday.
Clemson is going to Boston College next Saturday night.