CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Derrick Hamilton returned
a kickoff 100 yards for a score and caught a 69-yard touchdown
pass as Clemson held on for a 36-28 victory over North Carolina.
Hamilton opened the scoring early, capping a 93-yard drive with
his first career catch against the Tar Heels. He gave the Tigers
the lead for good at 30-28 with the longest kickoff return of
his career with 6:28 left in the third quarter.
Clemson (4-3, 3-2 ACC) had a 13-0 cushion after just 6 1/2
minutes, but North Carolin scored 21 of the next 24 points and
took a 21-16 lead on Ronnie McGill's seven-yard TD run with 10:37 left
in the third.
Tigers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst finished an 80-yard drive
with a one-yard plunge, but the Tar Heels responded quickly as
Darian Durant scored on a 63-yard run just 75 seconds later.
Hamilton returned the ensuing kickoff the distance and Clemson's
Aaron Hunt kicked a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter.
Durant was leading North Carolina (1-6, 0-4) on a potential
game-tying drive in the final minutes but fumbled at the 1 yard
line after a 15-yard run. The Tigers recovered in the end zone
and ran out the clock.
Durant, who was 11-of-11 against Clemson as a freshman last
season, completed 19-of-31 passes for 209 yards, a touchdown and
three interceptions. He ran 10 times for 110 yards.
Whitehurst was 18-of-34 for 309 yards. Hamilton caught three
passes for 102 yards and Airese Currie had four receptions for
Clemson's Duane Coleman ran for 111 yards on 13 carries and Chad
Jasmin rushed 17 times for 81 yards.
A strong finish lands the Rebels behind the Crimson Tide, who get fading Florida in the SEC championship game with a playoff berth within reach.
Clemson and North Carolina lead the pack, but how do the rest of the ACC rankings look after the last week of the regular season?
Stanford sits atop the Pac-12 Power Rankings after knocking off No. 6 Notre Dame on Saturday night.
The Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan State Spartans will settle the top of the power rankings on the field this Saturday.
Oklahoma established itself as the best in the Big 12, but teams 2-4 were a little harder to figure out.
With only currently 75 bowl-eligible teams to fill 80 bowl berths, at least two bowls -- and maybe more -- will need teams with 5-7 records.