Tigers ground Gamecocks, snap five-game losing skid

clemfoot-uscClemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another as the Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak against arch-rival South Carolina with a 35-17 victory Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Watson, who started the game after missing Clemson’s win against Georgia State last week with an injured knee, completed 14 of 19 passes, including touchdowns of 53 and 70 yards to wide receiver Artavis Scott.

Scott, a fellow freshman, caught seven passes for 185 yards — a Clemson freshman record — and freshman running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 191 yards as the Tigers improved to 9-3 and kept alive their chances for a third Orange Bowl berth in four years.

South Carolina (6-6) is bowl eligible for an 11th straight year, including 10 consecutive seasons under coach Steve Spurrier..

Watson, who suffered a sprained LCL in his left knee in a loss at Georgia Tech on Nov. 15, was listed as probable against the Gamecocks, but was announced as the Tigers’ starter shortly before kickoff.

Watson did not disappoint, guiding the Tigers to their first victory against South Carolina since Nov. 29, 2008.

It also marked the first game in Clemson history that the Tigers had a 250-yard passer, a 180-yard rusher and a 180-yard receiver in the same game.

The Tigers, ranked No. 21 in the latest College Football Playoff ranking, surrendered a 20-yard touchdown run to the Gamecocks’ Pharoh Cooper with 3:41 left in the first quarter, but it was all Clemson from there as the Tigers amassed 491 yards to the Gamecocks’ 339.

Clemson’s defense, which entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense and tackles for loss, came through as well, holding South Carolina to its lowest point total of the season and just 63 yards rushing, the eighth time this season the Tigers’ defense has limited an opponent to 88 yards or less on the ground.

After taking a 7-0 lead, South Carolina could generate little consistency on offense. Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson was under duress all day. He was sacked five times and completed 21 of 39 passes for 249 yards.

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