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If you thought for one second during his nine-year tenure in Raleigh that Dave Doeren never heard, or paid attention to, N.C. State stuff, you would be wrong.
Doeren may have downplayed it whenever asked about it, but he knew what it was. He’s heard the horror stories and even been around for a few. For a while it looked like he was about to be a part of another.
But not this time. As Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei’s fourth down pass attempt fell short to Justyn Ross, the NC State, ahem, stuff, was over.
The incomplete pass secured a 27-21 win by the Wolfpack. It was Doeren’s first win over a Top-10 team and his first ever win over Clemson in eight tries. He’d come close on several occasions - the missed field goal in regulation in 2016, the illegal shift a year later that killed a drive. Not in 2021. The Wolfpack (3-1) found a way to pull it out, making the plays when they counted the most, erasing years of bad mojo under Doeren.
“The curse is broken, N.C. State fans, finally,” Doeren said. “Finally. I’ve been here nine years and seen a lot of crazy stuff. People have talked about it and didn’t believe it, but I have to tell you, I think it was real and it’s not there anymore, so we can move on now and be happy about that.”
Clemson (2-2) came into Carter-Finley with an eight game win-streak over the Wolfpack and won 15 of the last 16 meetings. The Tigers struck first, then struck again, going up 21-14 in overtime. But the Wolfpack didn’t flinch, a term that constantly came up in the postgame press conference.
N.C. State tied the game at 21 when Devin Leary hit Thayer Thomas for a score, then took the final lead when Leary connected with Devin Carter in the back corner of the endzone. The N.C. State defense got a stop and that was all she wrote in Raleigh, as the Pack knocked off the No. 9 Tigers.
As fans stormed the field Leary hugged Doeren, Carter hugged teammates and defensive tackle Corey Durden looked for his mom. It was celebration time in the capital. By the time Doeren made his way off the field, among the mass of students, he got word that Hillsborough Street was already blocked off and the Bell Tower was already red. Doeren was happy the fans finally got to experience a celebration of this magnitude.
“Light it red and leave it on all night,” Doeren said. “They deserve to party like that. That’s what this is all about. If they could rip the goalpost down, walk them down there and lean them against the Bell Tower that would be even better. It’s an awesome thing, man, when you light it red like that.”
Doeren even went as far as calling this the biggest win of his career in Raleigh.
“It’s put us in a position, not only because they are a top-10 team, it’s our first ACC game of the year,” Doeren said. “The number of times we’ve had a chance to beat them and couldn’t. That’s a great football program that we just beat.”