CLEMSON, S.C. – Will Shipley recorded 179 yards from scrimmage and Clemson’s defense harassed North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye all day as the Tigers upended No. 20/22 North Carolina, 31-20, at Memorial Stadium on Senior Day. Clemson improved to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in league play, while the Tar Heels fell to 8-3 overall and 4-3 in league play.
North Carolina jumped out to a 7-0 lead and was poised to take a two-touchdown lead when cornerback Nate Wiggins stripped UNC running back Omarion Hampton at the goal line for a touchback. Wiggins ran nearly 70 yards in chasing down Hampton, and Clemson scored on its ensuing drive. Wiggins later added an acrobatic interception of Maye with 2:37 to play.
Clemson registered four sacks, five tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, 10 pass breakups and held North Carolina to 4-of-14 mark on third downs and 2-of-5 on fourth down attempts. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. continued his top-level play, finishing with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, a sack, two quarterback hurries and broke up a pass. The Tigers held Maye to 16-of-36 passing for 209 yards and one touchdown, the lowest completion percentage of his career.
Clemson’s offense totaled 466 yards on 89 plays, its second straight game with totaling more than 400 yards including 200 both rushing and passing. Clemson’s offensive line helped pave the way for 247 rushing yards and did not allow a sack. Quarterback Cade Klubnik was 21-for-32 for 219 yards and also ran for 44 yards and a touchdown with three seconds to play in the first half. Shipley had a big night as he ran for 126 yards on 18 attempts, totaled 53 yards in receiving and scored a touchdown. Fellow running back Phil Mafah added 84 yards rushing and a touchdown of his own.
Here’s what we heard:
- “What a great football game. Great, great finish for our seniors. Nothing better than those guys walking off the field one last time a winner. That’s three turnover margin wins and three wins in a row.”
- “That’s three turnover margins in a row and three wins in a row … We’re playing our best football and it’s fun to watch. Fans were awesome. It was just awesome”
- “I don’t know how long that game was. But it seemed like forever.”
- “There were five offsides (penalties on UNC). Four in the second half. Our fans were awesome — hats off to them”
- “The play by Nate was — that was unbelievable. That’s one of the greatest football plays I’ve ever seen.”
- “That (Wiggins play) was inspiring…I can’t wait to get the GPS data on how fast he was running. And we went on a 80-yard TD drive. That kinda lit the fire for us. Really proud of these guys.”
- On RB Will Shipley: “You hate him but you love him. You want to kill him and then you just want to kiss him. Man, I like it when he’s mad, though. Good stuff happens when he’s mad.”
- On Clemson’s fake punt: “Just didn’t work … Dialed up one for Tyler Davis on senior day.”
- “We’re playing aggressive defensively. In your face. Getting after it…Once we really got going, we stopped the run. When we stopped the run, we were able to get to him (Drake Maye).”
- On the Clemson defense: “They’ve played well enough for us to be undefeated. They really have”
- “This team has put themselves in a position to have a really good finish. You can have a really good start and not finish well. It’s all about how you finish.”
- Clemson has won 6 or more home games in 13 straight seasons — next longest streak nationally is Coastal Carolina with 3 straight seasons of that: “That’s for all the people who say we suck … It’s hard to win”
- Will Shipley: “He’s gonna be a great pro. He’s a guy that coaches are gonna love. He can do so much. He’s a special talent…. He’s just got to decide if he’s ready to give up college football or if he wants to take one more shot at it.”
- “I hope he comes back. One more little ride. Because we’ve kind of hit our stride with him and Mafah.”
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