CHAPEL HILL, N.C., NOV. 7 -- Clemson saw it all disintegrating against a fired-up North Carolina team: the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, a major bowl bid, the outside chance at a top five ranking. And with 7:38 left in the game, Clemson was on its 20-yard line with most in the crowd of 53,115 on their feet, looking for their Tar Heels to knock off the 10th-ranked Tigers.
The Tigers responded like champions with a 67-yard drive in 19 plays as David Treadwell's 30-yard field goal with 32 seconds left gave Clemson a 13-10 victory and at least a share of the ACC title.
"I knew it was in my range, and everybody was saying, 'It's an easy one, it's a chip shot,' " Treadwell said. "So I went out there like it was a chip shot."
"That's Clemson, running the ball up the middle, mixing in the option," Clemson quarterback Rodney Williams said. "We didn't have to throw the ball on the last drive, which was good."
The Tigers (8-1, 5-1 in the ACC) threw no passes in their game-winning drive, staying mostly between the tackles for running backs Tracy Johnson (25 carries, 124 yards) and Terry Allen (17 carries, 73 yards). Clemson had come into today's game averaging 248.8 yards rushing, tops in the ACC.
Today, the Tigers ran for 147 yards, finding the going tough with Wesley McFadden, their fine sophomore tailback, playing sparingly because of an injured thumb.
"We weren't expecting big things in the drive," said Johnson, who picked up 37 of the yards in the last drive. "We knew that we had to be successful. And when we know what we have to do, it's pretty hard to stop us."
"This is a tough place to come up here and win," Clemson Coach Danny Ford said, "but we are pleased with our performance. Treadwell did a great job and it was a great drive there at the end."
It was a struggle for Clemson all day, with fumbles causing problems.
The Tigers had broken on top late in the first half after a 39-yard punt return to the Carolina 30 by James Lott. Two plays later, split end Gary Cooper lined up on the left side of the field. The Tar Heels blew their coverage, leaving Cooper with no one on him. Cooper flashed a hand signal, Williams saw it and threw a five-yard out pattern that became a 28-yard score, giving the Tigers a 7-0 halftime lead.
But Clemson fumbled the ball away four times, three by Allen. His second fumble, recovered by nose guard Carlton Bailey, led to a five-play, 38-yard touchdown drive by Carolina early in the third quarter. Torin Dorn's 20-yard run down the right sideline tied the game at 7.
After a 42-yard field goal by Treadwell gave Clemson a 10-7 lead late in the period, Allen fumbled again early in the fourth. The Tar Heels (5-4, 3-2) recovered and moved from their 46 to the Clemson 32 before Kenny Miller's 48-yard field goal tied the score at 10.
So after the kickoff, Clemson knew what was at stake. "This drive was everything, our whole season," Johnson said.
Johnson began with a dive for nine. After being forced to use a timeout because of the crowd's noise, Williams twice pulled off the line. Officials promptly warned Carolina it would be charged with a timeout if the crowd didn't quiet down.
"We had a couple of plays where they give me audibles," said Williams, "and it got a little loud, where they couldn't hear me."
"They told us that if the crowd made noise again, they were going to take a timeout away from us," said North Carolina Coach Dick Crum. "The thing I thought he was wrong on was the quarterback never turned around and asked him for a timeout. The referee took it upon himself to do that and I don't think that is his place."
With the fans slightly more subdued, Johnson continued the drive, going off tackle for three yards and the first down.
Clemson's senior guard and Outland Trophy candidate, John Phillips, sensed the Carolina defenders were getting tired. "You could feel it, you could see it," he said. "I think it showed up especially when we didn't have to throw."
Allen went for five, Johnson for five and three, Allen for eight into Carolina territory. Three more runs set up fourth and two at the Tar Heels 38. Treadwell was willing to take a shot at a 55-yarder, but the offense wanted to stay out there.
"Once you get those first couple of first downs, you get that rhythm," Phillips said. "That's why those turnovers killed us in the first half."
Williams called for an option left, and Allen got outside of containment to keep the drive going. Johnson converted yet another third down with 2:05 left, diving for four yards to the Carolina 22.
All that was left then was to set it up for Treadwell, who hadn't missed from inside 40 yards all season and who had kicked five other game-winning or tying field goals in his career. The most recent was a 19-yarder earlier this season with two seconds to play to beat Georgia, 21-20.
Still, Carolina almost pulled out the win anyway when Randy Marriott split the Clemson zone with 20 seconds left and was drilled in the chest by Tar Heels quarterback Mark Maye. But Marriott dropped the pass, and Miller's desperation 63-yard attempt with two seconds left was well short. Clemson 0 7 3 3 13 North Carolina 0 0 7 3 10
C -- Cooper 29 pass from Williams (Treadwell kick)
UNC -- Doran 20 run (Miller kick)
C -- FG Treadwell 42
UNC -- FG Miller 48
C -- FG Treadwell 30
A -- 53,115
Clemson N. Carolina First downs 21 12 Rushes-yards 64-267 38-129 Passing yards 99 104 Return yards 52 5 Passing 7-10-0 12-20-2 Punts-average 2-39 4-43 Fumbles-lost 4-4 1-0 Penalties-yards 7-54 5-50 Time
RUSHING -- Clemson: Johnson 25-124, Allen 17-73. North Carolina: Doran 19-92, Starr 8-23.
PASSING -- Clemson: Williams 7-10-0, 99 yards. North Carolina: Maye 12-20-2, 104.
RECEIVING -- Clemson: Cooper 4-76. North Carolina: Doran 4-33, Marriott 3-42.