Home Football ACC Clemson beats UNC, 45-37; wins ACC Championship

Clemson beats UNC, 45-37; wins ACC Championship

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The Clemson Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels faced off at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina in the ACC Championship game. Both teams had a lot riding on the game as the Tigers would make the College Football Playoff with a win, while the Tar Heels would make a case for them being in with a win as well.

The Tigers entered into the game 12-0 and looked to win the ACC Championship and get into the CFP. They went toe-to-toe with the Tar Heels to start the game, but they pulled away in the third quarter to pull out the huge win.

The game was not disappointing from the word go. The Tar Heels took an early 3-0 lead after the Tigers missed a field goal on their first drive, but Clemson got their second drive going as leading-receiver Artavis Scott made a terrific catch to put them deep in Tar Heel territory.

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The Tigers took advantage of the great field position as Deshaun Watson hooked up with Wayne Gallman for a 16-yard touchdown to make the score 7-3.

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The Tar Heels wasted little time answering on the ensuing drive. Marquise Williams found running back T.J. Logan on an unbelievable throw as Logan took the pass 46 yards for the touchdown.

The Tar Heels went for a fake on the extra point, but failed and the score stood at 9-7.

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Both teams traded possessions and the Tigers found themselves backed up in the shadow of their own goal line. Watson led his team on a 96-yard drive and then capped it off with a short run to make the score 14-9.

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The Tigers had done almost everything perfect in the first half until just over 3 minutes left in the half. Punter Andy Teasdall made a huge mistake, thinking he could run for the first down on a fourth and 15, which Dabo Swinney was not happy about.

The Tar Heels took advantage of that just a few plays later as Williams found Ryan Switzer for a three-yard touchdown, making the score 16-14.

The Tigers didn’t want to be down going into halftime and they made a big drive. That is when Watson found tight end Jordan Leggett from a yard out with two seconds left.

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The Tar Heels opened the second half with the ball and trailing 21-16. They drove down deep in Clemson territory, but Williams’ pass was tipped and intercepted by Cordrea Tankersley and the Tigers scored on a 97 yard drive to get take the largest lead of the day at 28-16.

The Tar Heels decided to get a little tricky later in the third quarter as punter Joey Mangili tried to find an open man on a fourth and six. It failed and the Tigers took over and took advantage as Williams found Scott from 35 yards out to make the score 35-16.

The Tar Heels weren’t going to let the big deficit discourage them however. Williams led his team on another great drive and got into the endzone from a yard out to bring the score back to a 12-point game.

Watson led the Tigers back down the field and added to the lead to make the score 42-23. However, the Tigers kept fighting as running back Elijah Hood got into the endzone for the first time on the night.

The Tar Heels defense stepped up again and forced the Tigers to kick a field goal, making the score 45-30. North Carolina kept fighting as Williams found Switzer once again to make the score 45-37 with just over a minute left.

The Tar Heels attempted an onside kick and actually recovered it. However, the Tar Heels were offsides and the second kick was recovered by Clemson as the ran out the clock to win their sixteenth straight game and the ACC Championship for the first time since 2011.

Watson finished the day with 289 yards and three touchdowns while adding on 131 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Gallman also led the team with 187 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown while Scott caught seven passes for 96 yards and a score.

Watson was named the MVP of the ACC Championship game.

For North Carolina, Williams struggled, completing only 11 of his 33 passes for 224 yards, but had three touchdowns. Switzer caught three passes for 41 yards and two touchdowns.

The Tigers will likely be the number one team in the country heading into the CFP now as they get ready to win their first national championship since 1980.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

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