by Sean Donohue
The game starts as Casey Barth kicks off and Clemson receives. The Tigers have a rough time getting past the UNC defense and Dawson Zimmerman punts it. Carolina Quarterback T.J. Yates inches his team down field with slow but steady progress. Johnny White finishes the 48 yard, 12-play drive with a rush into the end zone. Barth completes the extra point and its 7-0.
The Clemson offense struggles to strike back and settles for a 48-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro. At 6:19 of the 2nd quarter, the score is 7-3 UNC.
After a hard-fought game by both teams, UNC eventually holds on to win 21-16.
Ryan Parker and the Tigers have similar luck on their second possession, but Catanzaros punt to UNC's 1. Each team's defense amps up the coverage and with 3:40 left in the 2nd quarter no other points have been put on the board.
Out of nowhere, UNC's Yates bombs a pass to White to put the Tar Heels in scoring position. After a desperate first down attempt, Yates fires a pass to Jeremy Boyd for the touchdown. After an 80-yard, 11-play drive, the extra point by Barth makes it 14-3 Carolina with 54 seconds left in the half.
After two quarters, its obvious that this has become a game of who can finish its drives. With Carolina having 141 and Clemson having 136 yards of offense, both teams equally successful at moving the ball. The winner today will be whoever can finish, rather than just endure.
The third quarter gives way to an even bigger fight for ball control. Both teams see no significant improvement in offensive control and at the 6:22 mark it's still 14-3.
After an unsuccessful possession by UNC, Clemson drives to Carolina's 28 where Catanzaro misses a field goal.
Yates and his offense grind downfield, using two fourth down conversions on their way before White makes a 26-yard run to the end zone. Barth's kick makes it 21-10.
On the following drive Clemson fans erupt with excitement, as Parker throws a 74-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown. But after an unsuccessful two-point try the score is 21-16.
Still with the lead, UNC holds onto the ball until C.J. Feagles punts with 19 seconds left. Clemson is out of timeouts and the 21-16 lead holds.
They said it…
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney: “First off, I'm extremely embarrassed. This team deserves better, Clemson deserves better, the fans deserve better. This is just not a very well-coached football team right now and it's my fault. I'm extremely disappointed in what I saw today. I saw a team that wasn't very smart, I saw a team that wasn't very disciplined.
"I saw a team get a lot of critical penalties, right from the beginning of the game on the first play. I saw a team give up a huge play that led to a score right before the end of the half. I'm embarrassed. I'm extremely disappointed in myself. I'm better than this, I know I'm better than this, and it's my job to get it fixed. It's nobody else's job. This football team didn't quit, the football team played, they tried as hard as they could, and it's obvious they're just not very well-coached.
UNC Coach Butch Davis: “There are a lot of ways to win football games. Some of them don't always look like the blueprint you draw up sometimes but when the kids compete and play hard the whole game it gives you a good chance. We tried to be as fundamentally sound as we possibly could and make plays when they presented themselves. I told everybody that I thought Clemson was the best football team we played up to this date. You can see that (Johnny White) is just running his heart out. It says an awful lot about him, he just keeps pounding and pounding. He finds a crease and bounces outside the tackle box and made some really big runs.”
White: "It's just a weight lifted off our shoulders. It just didn't seem like anything would go our way the first two weeks where we were a drive away from winning both of those games and now finally things are changing and starting to go our way.
What does it all mean?
UNC is now in a favorable standing after keeping a lead against a very strong football team. The inexperienced special teams for Carolina shows great improvement from the LSU game and continue to learn.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Parker's 74-yard touchdown pass to Brown.
Clemson leads 34-18-1.
UNC: Won 2.
Clemson: Lost 3.
Clemson vs. Maryland, Oct. 16, noon.
UNC at Virginia, Oct. 16, TBA.