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Clemson kicks in door to title game

CLEMSON, S.C. — As soon as his foot struck the ball, Chandler Catanzaro knew No. 9 Clemson was on the way to the ACC title game.

Catanzaro rebounded from missing a minute earlier to kick a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the host Tigers to a 31-28 victory over Wake Forest, clinching their second Atlantic Division title in three years.

"That was the best kick of my career," Catanzaro said. "I was just so proud of myself for that."

As were his teammates and most of the 80,000 at Death Valley. Players and fans streamed on to the field when it was over, swarming Clemson's sophomore placekicker.

"I felt like someone had me around the neck there for a while," Catanzaro said with a laugh.

Tajh Boyd overcame two interceptions to throw for 343 yards and help the Tigers overcome a 14-point deficit. Andre Ellington had 98 yards and a pair of touchdown runs as Clemson finished 7-0 at home, its first perfect season at Memorial Stadium since 1990.

There's more left to play for, coach Dabo Swinney said.

"We're always trying to be the best and today we're the best in the division," Swinney said. "But we've got other goals."

Wake Forest would've controlled the division with a win. The Demon Deacons scored 21 points in the third quarter to take a 28-14 lead.

Michael Campanaro began the charge with a 50-yard punt return. Two plays later, Wake Forest had the ball again after Ellington's fumble was recovered by linebacker Joey Ehrmann. It took Brandon Pendergrass two plays to break off a 19-yard TD run and put the Demon Deacons ahead.

Moments later, safety Josh Bush intercepted Boyd to set up a 33-yard touchdown run by Pendergrass.

Then Boyd showed the form that helped him lead Clemson to an 8-0 start. He was 5 of 5 on a 68-yard drive which ended with Brandon Ford's 7-yard scoring catch.

The Tigers tied it with 5:27 to go on Jaron Brown's 10-yard touchdown grab, a series on which Boyd completed six passes for 64 yards.

BOSTON COLL. 14, N.C. ST. 10: Starting quarterback Chase Rettig threw for a touchdown and backup Josh Bordner ran for a score for the host Eagles, who stopped North Carolina State twice deep in its territory late in the game. BC linebacker Luke Kuechly, who led the nation coming in with 150 tackles, had 18 more, including nine in the final 13 minutes.

VIRGINIA 31, DUKE 21: Chase Minnifield returned an interception for a touchdown as the host Cavaliers ended a three-game losing streak to Duke and moved closer to a possible showdown with rival Virginia Tech for the league's Coastal Division title.

No. 9 Clemson 31

Wake Forest 28

Clemson kicks in door to title game 11/12/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 9:27pm]

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