Clemson topples No. 20 North Carolina for third straight win

Cade Klubnik passed for a touchdown and ran for another as Clemson took advantage of No. 20 North Carolina’s mistakes in a 31-20 victory Saturday at Clemson, S.C., giving the resurgent Tigers their third straight win.

Will Shipley rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and Phil Mafah gained 84 yards and scored on a fourth-down play as the Tigers (7-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) completed their league schedule.

North Carolina’s quest for a spot in the ACC Championship game was dashed earlier in the day when Louisville won at Miami. The Tar Heels (8-3, 4-3) have lost three of their last five games.

North Carolina’s Omarion Hampton ran for 178 yards on 19 carries, but he lost two fumbles after not fumbling in the team’s first 10 games. Quarterback Drake Maye was 16-for-36 for 209 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Klubnik threw for 219 yards on 21-for-32 passing and rushed for 44 yards in a rematch of last year’s ACC title game.

Clemson went up 21-7 when Mafah scored from 3 yards out on fourth down with 7:15 left in the third quarter.

The Tar Heels struck back quickly on Hampton’s 55-yard run on the third play of the next possession.

Clemson wasted no time in re-building a 14-point edge with Shipley reaching the end zone on a 33-yard run. Then an 88-yard drive resulted in Jonathan Weitz’s 21-yard field goal for a 31-14 score.

North Carolina held a sizable statistical advantage in the first half, but two fumbles by Hampton inside the Clemson 10-yard line resulted in scoring chances going for naught.

North Carolina opened the scoring on Maye’s 33-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Jones in the first quarter. But the Tar Heels wasted other opportunities.

Clemson pulled even on Klubnik’s 3-yard pass to Jake Briningstool to conclude a 14-play, 80-yard march.

The Tigers took the lead on an 11-play drive that ended with three seconds left of the first half on Klubnik’s 3-yard run on third down.