By Will Vandervort.
Grady Jarrett was all smiles following No. 18 Clemson’s victory over South Carolina last week.
Not only had he and his teammates finally ended the long losing streak to the Gamecocks that had been hanging over the football program and the school the last five years, but they did it with a dominating performance.
“This means a lot,” the senior defensive tackle said. “It has been four years that I have been here and this was my first win against them. It was really good.”
In his last game in Death Valley Jarrett and the Tigers beat South Carolina in every area. The offense raced up and down the field to the tune of 491 total yards. Playing with a torn ACL, quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 269 yards and two scores, while running for two more. Wide receiver Artavis Scott caught seven passes for 185 yards, including two touchdowns on the jet-sweep motion that went for 53 and 70 yards. Running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 191 yards on 27 carries and scored one touchdown.
The defense was even more dominating than the offense was. Clemson held the Gamecocks to a season-low in points (17) and rushing yards (63), while also keeping them 122 yards below their season average. The Tigers sacked quarterback Dylan Thompson four times, while pressuring him all afternoon.
It was a dominating performance from all aspects.
“I’m definitely just trying to take it all in,” Jarrett said. “From the movie last night, to the ride over from the hotel, the last ride going around the stadium, I’m just trying to take it all in.
“This will be something I will remember and cherish forever.”
Clemson fans will cherish Jarrett forever, too. The Conyers, Ga., native played in 47 games over the last four years, including 36 starts. The three-year starter has 213 career tackles heading into Clemson’s bowl game, 26 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 36 quarterback pressures.
In the last two years Jarrett has been one of Clemson’s best tacklers. He finished third on the team in 2013 with 83 tackles, while this year he earned First-Team All-ACC honors with 69 tackles while helping the Tigers finish first nationally in total defense and seventh in rushing defense.
“When you play at place like this, it is a special place to play,” he said. “I’m going to miss it. I’m glad for the time I have had here and I feel like I made the most of it.”
The topper for Jarrett and the rest of the seniors was the fact they picked up their 41st victory—the most by a senior class at Clemson—against the one team the program has not beaten in six years prior to last Saturday. Beating the Gamecocks was the icing on the cake.
“It is everything,” the senior said. “Final game, the rivalry, back at home, last game in Death Valley and becoming the winning-est senior class in Clemson history. This win today made it that much more significant.
“It was just a plethora of everything.”
And beating the Gamecocks, the way that they did, made it all the more special than it already was.
“We finally checked off every box on our team goals,” Jarrett said. “We did not do it all in one season, but through the years we have been here we have won openers, we have won our division, we have won an ACC Championship, we won bowl games and we finally won the State Championship.
“This is definitely satisfying. This is definitely satisfying and gratifying to go out with a win against South Carolina.”