RALEIGH — Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley has made a career out of playing against North Carolina State.
Beasley, who has 13 career quarterback sacks, has six sacks against the Wolfpack over the past two seasons.
Beasely, a junior, turned in the defensive play of the game for the Tigers in third quarter when he sacked Wolfpack quarterback Pete Thomas and forced a fumble that Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey recovered. Five plays later, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd connected with Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown that gave the Tigers a 20-7 advantage.
Three plays prior to Beasley’s sack, N.C. State wide receiver Bryan Underwood appeared to score on an 83-yard jet sweep, but was ruled out of bounds at the Clemson 47.
Beasley had just two tackles coming into Thursday night’s game with the Wolfpack, but both were sacks against Georgia.
Tahj Boyd’s three touchdown passes against the Wolfpack put the Clemson senior tied for second place on the ACC’s all-time passing touchdown list.
Boyd has 79 TD passes, which ties him for second with former Florida Chris Weinke, who had 79 TD passes from 1997-2000.
Ironically, Boyd, who came into the game with 76 career TD passes, passed Russell Wilson (76) with his 11-yard TD pass to Sam Cooper in the first quarter.
N.C. State’s Philip Rivers had 95 TD passes for the Wolfpack from 2000-03.
Clemson place kicker Chandler Cantanzaro isn’t perfect, but he’s close. Cantanzaro, who became the school’s all-time scoring leader Thursday night, has connected on 29 of his last 30 field-goal attempts.
Cantanzaro connected on two of two field-goal attempts — 45 and 49 yards — against the Wolfpack. Cantanzaro’s lone miss came on a 48-yard attempt last season against Wake Forest.
Over that stretch, Cantanzaro has connected on eight of nine attempts from more than 40 yards.
Cantanzaro became Clemson’s all-time leading scorer against the Wolfpack with 331 points, passing Aaron Hunt, who had 329 points from 2000-03.
The miraculous recovery of Clemson tight end Sam Cooper continued against N.C. State as the Brentwood, Tenn., native made his first reception of the season.
Cooper, who suffered a knee injury (torn ACL) during the Tigers’ spring game in April, caught an 11-yard TD pass from Tahj Boyd in the second quarter.
Cooper had surgery on his knee just 19 weeks ago and wasn’t expected to be ready to play this early in the season.
The home crowd’s sound rose in cheers, then turned to boos when they realized a big play was stunted by Clemson’s thrifty use of timeouts.
In the first quarter, a sideline timeout prevented Clemson’s short 3rd-and-15 gain that would have brought on the punt team; after the timeout, receiver Sammy Watkins caught a ball for 16 yards and a first down.
The next instance was even bigger. Boyd threw toward Bryant, and was intercepted by Juston Burris, who appeared to be headed easily for the end zone. But whistles were blown before the snap, thus denying the pick-six.
After a dismal opening drive on which he allowed two sacks, right tackle Gifford Timothy was yanked in favor of sophomore Shaq Anthony.
When that didn’t work, sophomore Isaiah Battle went in at left tackle, moving Brandon Thomas to the right side. Kalon Davis also entered at left guard, and the first drive with Davis and Battle yielded Clemson’s first touchdown.
Highly touted freshman wide receiver Mike Williams had his most significant catch of his young career against the N.C. State.
Williams hauled in a 25-yard reception on a 3rd-and-4 play that gave the Tigers a first down and ended with a 45-yard Cantanzarro field goal.
Williams, who was the 27th-ranked high school wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com a year ago, caught two passes for 18 yards last week against South Carolina State.
Clemson starting offensive guard David Beasley injured his ankle in the fourth quarter.