The Gamecocks won the battle for bragging rights for the fourth straight year over Clemson 27-17 in Death Valley on Saturday night.
While the Tigers (10-2) started the game strong, they struggled to handle South Carolina's (10-2) defensive pressure along with a strong game from Gamecocks' backup quarterback Dylan Thompson, who had three touchdown passes and 310 yards.
The Gamecocks' 27-17 win over the Tigers leaves both teams with a two-loss season and kept Clemson University's seniors winless against the Gamecocks for four years straight in the Palmetto State Showdown.
Clemson won the toss and received the ball to start the game. Both teams failed to score on each of their first possessions of the first quarter.
During their second possession of the game, Clemson successfully moved the ball down the field, with quarterback Tajh Boyd taking in a three-yard run for the Tigers' first touchdown of the game. With 6:14 left in the first quarter, Clemson was up 7-0.
The Gamecocks returned suit, with wide receiver Bruce Ellington's catch in the corner of the endzone tying the game at 7-7 with 1:46 left in first quarter. Clemson returned to score almost immediately, with two quick plays including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' 43-yard touchdown pass from Boyd. The Tigers were up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Both the Gamecocks and Tigers had two sacks each with less than 11 minutes to go in the first half. Nearing the end of the second quarter, Clemson held South Carolina to a field goal, who trailed 14-10.
Boyd threw a long, high pass allowing the Gamecocks' DeVonte Holloman to intercept with 1:32 remaining in the first half. South Carolina was not able to capitalize on the interception, being forced to punt less than a minute later.
At the end of the first half, Clemson led South Carolina 14-10.
The Gamecocks received to start the second half and were able to turn it into a touchdown. Wide receiver Ace Sanders had a 34-yard touchdown reception, giving the Gamecocks a 17-14 lead with 11:48 left in the third quarter.
Clemson held the Gamecocks on their next possession to a 43-yard field goal by Yates, giving South Carolina a 20-14 lead with 6:56 left in the quarter. Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 37-yard field goal, tightening the gap to 20-17 a short time later.
At the end of the third quarter, the Gamecocks held onto their 20-17 lead over Clemson. Early into the fourth quarter, both teams had four sacks a piece.
With 13:23 left in the game, Clemson defensive back Xavier Brewer picked off Gamecocks' quarterback Thompson's pass in the endzone. Near the 12-minute mark, Boyd threw his second interception.
With less than five minutes left in the game, Ellington's six-yard touchdown reception gave the Gamecocks a 27-17 lead. Clemson was unable to add points on the board during their next possession.
Just before game time, the Gamecocks announced that starting quarterback Connor Shaw would not start, replaced by Thompson. Officials said Shaw had an injured foot and he did not play against the Tigers.
Shaw was not the Gamecocks' only bout with injuries this week. Though questionable earlier in the week due to an injury, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney did start in the game at Clemson and was reportedly 100 percent. South Carolina's runningback Marcus Lattimore has been out since he injured his knee, requiring surgery, during the Gamecocks' game against Tennessee.
South Carolina had defeated Clemson the past three years, though the Tigers lead the series 65-41-4. In 2011, the Gamecocks won 34-13. Clemson's home record against South Carolina is 16-10-1. The last time the Gamecocks won four-straight against Clemson was from 1951 to 1954, which is also their longest winning streak in the series.
Clowney set a Memorial Stadium record with 4.5 sacks against the Tigers.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney acknowledged the Gamecocks' defensive pressure and control of the ball after the game.
"We got off to a good start scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter but they just started to control the ball after that," Swinney said. "Give them credit, they did a great job. Their ability to put pressure on Tajh was a key. Give credit to South Carolina."
The win, Gamecocks' head coach Steve Spurrier became the winningest coach in South Carolina football history with a 65-37 career at South Carolina, surpassing Rex Enright who had 64 career wins.
"We were very fortunate again," Spurrier said. "It seems like when we play Clemson, they don't play very well. We did what we needed to do, I guess, to make more plays than they did. There were a lot of penalties in this game. I'm really, really proud of our defense. That's one of the best offenses in the country, and we held them down fairly well, to 17 points."
The time of possession was on the Gamecocks' side, having control of the ball for 23:19 in the second half alone. The Tigers were unable to score a touchdown in the second half. They did set the school season record for total offense in Saturday's game, gaining 328 yards with 6,220 yards for the year.
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