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Clemson manages to hang on to edge Irish

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdowns, ran for a third and Clemson’s defense stopped DeShone Kizer on a tying two-point conversion as the 12th-ranked Tigers held on to beat No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22 on Saturday night.

Tigers linebacker B.J. Goodson had an interception and a fumble recovery to halt two fourth-quarter drives by the Fighting Irish (4-1). But the biggest stop was by defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, who brought down Kizer short of the goal line with seven seconds left.

Kizer rallied Notre Dame from 21-3 down in the second half with two touchdown passes, the last a 1-yard toss to Torii Hunter Jr.

Clemson secured the Notre Dame’s onside kick and closed out the victory, moving to 4-0 for fourth time in five years.

Waterlogged Clemson fans rushed the field when time ran out, celebrating the win over the highest-ranked Tiger opponent since they defeated No. 5 Georgia to start the 2013 season. Those title dreams died a few weeks later when undefeated Clemson was stomped by eventual national champion Florida State, which put up the most points ever scored by an opponent in Death Valley in a 51-14 loss.

Another loss was surely on many minds as Clemson saw its 18-point lead sliced to two after Hunter’s TD catch.

This time, though, the Tigers defense held strong.

Clemson forced four turnovers, all in the second half, to stay in front.

Watson accounted for 190 yards, 93 of those coming on the ground. He had a 21-yard TD run early in third quarter to put the Tigers up 21-3. That’s when Notre Dame’s defense rose up to give its offense a chance to come back.

Kizer had a 56-yard scoring pass to C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame’s eighth play this season of at least 50 yards. The Irish closed to 24-16 on Kizer’s 3-yard scoring run to set up the wild final moments.

Clemson struck quickly in Notre Dame’s first visit to Death Valley since 1977, with Watson running for 38 yards on the game’s first play. Watson found Leggett moments later for a 6-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.

Clemson kept the pressure on its next series. Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow for a 24-yard pass inside Notre Dame’s 20, before finding Scott for a 13-yard TD and a 14-0 lead as the stunned Irish looked at each other as they headed to the sidelines.

The Irish’s only points of the half came on a 46-yard field goal by Justin Yoon.

The rainstorm that saturated much of the East Coast was a focus of the week. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — a Clemson graduate whose picture is on one of the Tigers’ offensive play-call signs — told fans to stay home unless they had to attend. The stands, though, were filled with orange ponchos and raincoats as the rain fell.

No. 12 CLEMSON 24, No. 6 NOTRE DAME 22

Notre Dame 3 0 0 19 – 22

Clemson 14 0 7 3 – 24

First Quarter

Clem-Leggett 6 pass from Watson (Huegel kick), 12:19.

Clem-A.Scott 13 pass from Watson (Huegel kick), 8:43.

ND-FG Yoon 46, 5:32.

Third Quarter

Clem-Watson 21 run (Huegel kick), 14:14.

Fourth Quarter

ND-Prosise 56 pass from Kizer (pass failed), 14:13.

Clem-FG Huegel 35, 10:56.

ND-Kizer 3 run (Yoon kick), 9:03.

ND-Hunter Jr. 1 pass from Kizer (run failed), :07.

A-82,415.

ND Clem

First downs 20 15

Rushes-yards 33-116 42-199

Passing 321 97

Comp-Att-Int 19-35-1 11-22-1

Totals yards 437 296

Return Yards 10 0

Punts-Avg. 7-37.6 8-41.4

Fumbles-Lost 6-3 1-0

Penalties-Yards 6-45 5-44

Time of Possession 29:58 29:54

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-Notre Dame, Kizer 15-60, Prosise 15-50, Hunter Jr. 1-4, Adams 2-2. Clemson, Gallman 22-98, Watson 16-93, Brooks 1-12, Fuller 1-1, Team 2-(minus 5).

PASSING-Notre Dame, Kizer 19-34-1-321, Team 0-1-0-0. Clemson, Watson 11-22-1-97.

RECEIVING-Notre Dame, Hunter Jr. 5-52, Prosise 4-100, Brown 4-83, Carlisle 3-34, Fuller 2-37, Robinson 1-15. Clemson, A.Scott 5-43, McCloud 2-10, Leggett 2-7, Renfrow 1-24, Gallman 1-13.