Gamecocks claim fifth win in a row over rival Tigers

uscfoot-14runTurning three of Clemson turnovers into touchdowns, No. 10 South Carolina (10-2) used 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points to claim a 31-17 win over the No. 6 Tigers (10-2) on Saturday evening in front of 84,174 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks scored their fifth straight in the series against their archrivals but lost out on a chance to win the SEC East later in the night when Missouri defeated Texas A&M 28-21. South Carolina now awaits a bowl invitation as the second-place team in the East, while Clemson also saw its BCS bowl hopes ended.

Gamecock senior quarterback Connor Shaw posted 246 yards of total offense in the win, running for one touchdown and passing for another in the win, his 26th as a starter for South Carolina. Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles tallied a career-high 2.5 sacks and tied for the team lead with six tackles. Interceptions by junior Brison Williams, sophomore T.J. Holloman and freshman Skai Moore along with fumbles forced by senior Chaz Sutton and sophomore Kaiwan Lewis accounted for five of the six Clemson turnovers. Moore also recovered the first Tiger fumble.

The Gamecocks capitalized on two Clemson turnovers in the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Williams ended Clemson’s opening drive with a leaping interception in the end zone, and South Carolina drove 80 yards in 17 plays, the fourth-longest drive by plays in the Steve Spurrier era, to take a 7-0 lead. Shaw capped the drive with a 3-yard run.

After the Tigers answered less than two minutes later on Tajh Boyd’s 8-yard run, South Carolina received a gift back. The Tigers forced the Gamecocks to punt, but Clemson’s return man had the ball hit off his pads, and Moore recovered, giving the Gamecocks new life. Five plays later on the first of the second quarter, Shaw hit sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland with the fade pass from 9 yards out to put South Carolina on top 14-7.

The Gamecocks’ advantage grew to 10 when freshman Elliott Fry hit a 21-yard field goal with 8:25 left in the first half. The Tigers drew within a touchdown when Chandler Catanzaro’s 38-yard field goal connected from 38 yards out as time expired. South Carolina held the ball for 19:42 of the first half, compared to 10:18 for Clemson, and converted eight of its 11 third-down tries.

Clemson posted a drive more reminiscent of South Carolina’s offense to tie the game in the third quarter. Roderick McDowell capped a 15-play, 88-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, and the point after evened the score at 17-17 with 3:01 left. But South Carolina responded with an drive that covered 75 yards in 11 plays, with sophomore running back Mike Davis wrapping it with a 2-yard run, the first touchdown for Davis since the Tennessee game.

With Clemson driving early in the fourth quarter, Sutton stripped the Tiger quarterback of the football at the Gamecock 30-yard line, giving South Carolina the ball back with 8:38 to play. The Tigers forced a Gamecock punt, but Lewis forced a fumble from the returner, and redshirt freshman Kwinton Smith recovered it to give the Gamecocks new life with 5:18 to play. Three plays after the second fumble of the quarter, Gamecock freshman Pharoh Cooper, on the option pass, floated one to sophomore Brandon Wilds, who took it to the end zone for the 26-yard score. Fry’s kick put the Gamecocks up 31-17 with 3:44 to play.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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