By Aaron Beard
The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Tajh Boyd threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 3 Clemson beat North Carolina State 26-14 on Thursday night.
Boyd’s second scoring pass, a 30-yarder to Martavis Bryant, capped a critical third-quarter sequence that allowed the Tigers (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to seize momentum in front of a hostile crowd.
Clemson pulled away from there. Boyd found Bryant for another touchdown, with Bryant snatching the ball from defender Niles Clark for a 15-yard score that helped the Tigers blow the game open early in the fourth.
Sammy Watkins added 10 catches for 96 yards on a night when Clemson’s explosive offense didn’t manage many big plays yet finished with 415 yards.
Shadrach Thornton scored the Wolfpack’s first touchdown on a 21-yard run in the second. N.C. State (2-1, 0-1) led 7-6 at that point but couldn’t complete the upset in coach Dave Doeren’s first league game.
The Tigers entered Raleigh with their highest ranking in 25 years and a prime spot in the national championship chase. They also came with memories of their inexplicably bad performance here two seasons earlier, when the Wolfpack scored 27 second-quarter points en route to a 37-13 rout of the then-No. 7 Tigers.
N.C. State finished with 378 total yards, but failed to convert its first eight third-down tries and finished 3-for-16 for the game.
Clemson reserve left tackle Isaiah Battle was ejected for a late shove to the facemask of N.C. State’s Jarvis Byrd with 1:33 left.