The No. 10 Clemson Tigers (11-2, 9-0 ACC) defeated No. 24 UNC (9-4, 6-3 ACC) by a score of 39-10 in the ACC Championship. This is Clemson’s fifth straight win over UNC and seventh ACC Crown in eight years.
North Carolina got on the board first thanks to a quarterback keeper from redshirt first-year Drake Maye. Graduate tight end Kamari Morales and redshirt first-year Kobe Paysour were particularly active targets on the first drive, with Morales picking up 33 yards and Paysour almost completing a 38-yard pass that was caught just barely out of bounds.
Clemson tied the game at 7-7 roughly seven minutes later after a 1-yard reception by senior tight end Davis Allen. At quarterback for Clemson, Cade Klubnik threw five passes for fifty yards on that drive, including a momentum-shifting 22-yard pass to first-year wideout Antonio Williams that brought the Tigers within the red zone.
Soon after tying the game at 7-7, Clemson’s Ruke Orhorhoro regained the ball on a fumble on a Maye handoff. Just two plays and 40 seconds later, the Tigers had another touchdown thanks to a 19-yard pass from sophomore running back Phil Mafah to Klubnik and a four-yard Mafah rush into the end zone to make the score 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After the Tigers added another touchdown to extend their lead to 21-7, UNC began to claw back. Driving down the field, Maye tried to rush up the middle on third down at the Clemson 6-yard line. After Maye was tackled for a loss of two yards by Clemson sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., UNC sophomore Noah Burnette kicked a 25-yard field goal to bring the score to 21-10.
With just over a minute left in the second quarter, Clemson began to march down the field. After an ineligible receiver penalty froze the Tigers at midfield, graduate student B.T. Potter kicked a 52-yard field goal to close out the half, 24-10. This is the longest field goal in ACC Championship history, and ties Potter’s career-long.
In the third quarter, the Tigers padded their score with a 15-0 run to add on to their 14-point halftime lead.
The scoring run started with a pick-six by sophomore cornerback Nate Wiggins. The 98-yard run — the longest pick-six in ACC title history — was followed by a two-point conversion rush by graduate wide receiver Drew Swinney. Shortely thereafter, Clemson added another touchdown after a Will Shipley rush up the middle. That drive was complete with a Klubnik pass to junior wide receiver Brannon Spector, who ran for over 30 yards following the catch to move Clemson into the red zone.