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ACC: Tiger defense preserves victory after late fumble

©Associated Press
September 15, 2002

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Willie Simmons fumbled the snap as Clemson tried to run out the clock. And Georgia Tech drove to the Tigers 29 before Eric Sampson's interception with a minute left sealed a 24-19 victory Saturday.

"We want to put the game on the defense to win," defensive tackle Nick Eason said. "We want it on our shoulders."

Clemson's Derrick Hamilton rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown and set up another with a 79-yard punt return.

"We had too many penalties, really costly penalties," said Yellow Jackets coach Chan Gailey, whose team had eight penalties for 99 yards.

"And we had too many situations where we did not convert."

That included a 2-point conversion, which failed after Hollings' 1-yard run with 3:43 left cut Clemson's lead to 24-19.

With the Yellow Jackets out of timeouts, Clemson tried to run out the clock. But Simmons fumbled a snap near midfield, giving Georgia Tech its final shot.

On their first possession of the second half, the Tigers took a 24-6 lead on Simmons' 44-yard touchdown to Tony Elliot.

Georgia Tech responded with an 11-play, 78-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown to John Foschi to make it 24-13.

* * *

TEXAS 52, NORTH CAROLINA 21: Chris Simms threw four touchdown passes and Cedric Benson rushed for 208 yards and two scores for the visiting Longhorns.

Texas jumped to a 24-point first-half lead and moved the ball at will for much of the first half as Longhorns coach Mack Brown returned to Kenan Stadium for the first time since leaving the Tar Heels five years ago.

Twice, the Tar Heels pulled within 10 on second-half touchdowns only to see Simms provide a momentum-killing response. Simms had a 10-yard touchdown to Chad Stevens late in the third to go up 31-14 and a 58-yard touchdown to Roy Williams in the fourth for a 38-21 lead.

N.C. STATE 32, WAKE 13: Philip Rivers threw for 223 yards and T.A. McLendon returned from an injury to score two touchdowns for the host Wolfpack in the conference opener for both teams.

The Wolfpack, playing with its highest ranking since the final poll of 1994, improved to 4-0 for the second time in three seasons and has outscored opponents 165-46.

McLendon, a freshman, missed last week's 65-19 victory over Navy with a sore shoulder. But he powered his way through tacklers for touchdown runs of 5 and 3 yards during the first half.

Down 14 at halftime, the Demon Deacons closed to 23-13 with 9:04 left in the third on a 53-yard pass from James MacPherson to Jax Landfried.

But less than four minutes later, Shawn Price stripped the ball from MacPherson and ran 13 yards for a touchdown.

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