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  • Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) dives into the end zone for a touchdown while North Carolina State's Shawn Boone (24) looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Saturday, November 04, 2017 7:38 pm

No. 6 Clemson holds off No. 20 NC State 38-31 in ACC

AARON BEARD | Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. – Tavien Feaster ran for an 89-yard touchdown to end the third quarter and K'Von Wallace picked off Ryan Finley on the game's final play to help No. 6 Clemson hold off No. 20 North Carolina State 38-31 on Saturday.

Feaster's break-loose run up the middle and gave Clemson (8-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference, CFP No. 4) a 31-21 lead entering the fourth, then the Tigers had to hang on in the final seconds as the Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1, CFP No. 20) got one more shot to tie the game in the final minute.

That drive pushed to the Clemson 28. Wallace broke up a pass to Jaylen Samuels a few yards short of the goal line, and then an illegal formation penalty by North Carolina wiped out completion that would have given the Wolfpack a first-and-goal.

Wallace picked off Ryan Finley's final overthrown fourth-down ball and returned it 55 yards to burn the clock and keep the Tigers on course for a third straight trip to the College Football Playoff.

Finley threw three touchdown passes for N.C. State.

THE TAKEAWAY

Clemson: The reigning national champions showed off their big-game experience, even with so many stars lost from last year's title winner. The Tigers never led until late in the third quarter in a hostile road environment, but did just enough to put themselves in control of the ACC's Atlantic Division race yet again.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack had a shot to all but wrap up the Atlantic Division title with a win, but likely saw those hopes end with this loss. There were a handful of breakdowns and a few critical sequences that got away from the Wolfpack, from Finley's fourth-quarter interception in his own end to a few badly timed penalties.

UP NEXT

Clemson: The Tigers host Florida State on Nov. 11, a game that was supposed to be the marquee matchup in the conference but has lost its luster with the Seminoles' struggles.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack travel to Boston College on Nov. 11 in a matchup that has given them fits. BC has won three of the last four meetings.

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap