Whitehurst leads the way on Clemson’s All-Time Rivalry Team vs. South Carolina
If Charlie Whitehurst ever decided to run for Governor in the state of South Carolina, it will probably be a split vote.
On one side, the Clemson faithful would probably fill his ballot up, while the South Carolina faithful would more than likely check their ballot for his opponent. And neither would have anything to do with his platform.
Whitehurst is simply known as the guy who beat South Carolina four times, the only quarterback on either side in the 114-year history of the rivalry to go 4-0 against his archrival.
“I kind of downplayed it early,” Whitehurst said. “It’s a team honor. I guess my name gets put on it.”
Whitehurst beat the Gamecocks in all kinds of ways so he deserved to have his name on it.
In 2002, his first game against USC, he rallied the Tigers from a 20-13 deficit after Dondrial Pinkins gave the Gamecocks the lead with a 4-yard run with 3:04 to play in the third quarter.
From that point on, the game belonged to Whitehurst. A freshman at the time, he calmly led Clemson down the field, converting on two third down plays. First passing 21 yards to Airese Currie on third-and-eight from the USC 32, and then scoring on an 11-yard scramble on third-and-10.
On the touchdown, Corey Jenkins chased Whitehurst out of the pocket on a safety blitz, but Whitehurst spun to the left, going towards the sideline, and then outran the USC defense to the end zone with 13:52 to play.
When Clemson got the ball back, the freshman continued to make big plays as he led the Tigers on the game-winning drive. First Whitehurst hit Derrick Hamilton for 22 yards and then tight end Bobby Williamson for six more before completing a 30-yard pass to Jackie Robinson that moved the football to the USC one.
Moments later, running back Bernard Rambert took a pitch from Whitehurst and ran around the right side to score from two yards out for the game winner as the Tigers rallied for a 27-20 win.
Whitehurst proved he was going to be a problem for the Gamecocks for another three years as he completed 27-of-38 passes for 287 yards.
The 2003 game is simply known as “63-17” by Clemson fans, but it should be noted that it was perhaps Whitehurst’s finest hour as the Tigers’ quarterback. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 43 more yards.
He established new records against the Gamecocks for passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense in the victory. The 63 points were the most scored by either team in the rivalry and that mark still stands today.
But the story of the night was Whitehurst, who continued to chop up South Carolina. He completed the first 10 passes he threw, three of them for touchdowns on the Tigers’ first three drives of the game, and then his fourth touchdown to Duane Coleman in the third quarter tied a Clemson record.
The 2004 game unfortunately was outshined by the fourth quarter brawl that embarrassed both schools and the state, but on the field, Whitehurst again owned the Gamecocks. Though his numbers weren’t as dominate as the year before, he completed 15-of-28 passes for 151 yards as the Tigers routed USC, again, 29-7.
Clemson outgained the Gamecocks 313 to 197 and were 8 of 17 on third down, while USC was 4 of 16. The Tigers scored a minute into the game after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and cruised from there.
They rushed for 162 yards on 48 carries and controlled the clock with a time of possession of 36:23. Running back Reggie Merriweather led Clemson with 125 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tigers knew it was not going to be easy to beat South Carolina in 2005, but like always their leader found a way to get it done, even if he did need 35 yards to pick up a first down.
Whitehurst got Clemson out of the long distance situation and drove his team down the field in the final moments to beat South Carolina, 13-9, in Columbia on a James Davis’ touchdown run with 5:58 remaining.
Following a clipping and holding penalties on back-to-back plays, the Tigers found themselves buried at their own 22-yard line and needing to get to the USC 43 for a first down. But Whitehurst completed three passes in a row, the last a 28-yard strike to Curtis Baham on third-and-12 from the 35.
The pass moved the ball to the South Carolina 27. Davis then rolled off a 23-yard run to the 4-yard line, and then rushed two yards before scoring the game-winner on the next play.
“At the end, put the game in Charlie Whitehurst’s hands and he comes through,” then Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said.
South Carolina had one more chance to get the ball back, but once again, fittingly enough it was Whitehurst that dashed the Gamecocks’ hopes. On third-and-nine from midfield, he called his own number on a quarterback draw and picked up 10 yards to seal the win.
As he got up, Whitehurst got to one knee and used his index finger on his right hand to signal first down, sending the 10,000 or so Clemson fans at Williams-Brice Stadium into celebration mode.
“It’s the sweetest feeling I have ever known in sports,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst finished his career against the Gamecocks by completing 77-of-118 passes for 912 yards. He completed 65.4 percent of his passes and more importantly, he was 4-0 against the Tigers’ archrival.
Clemson’s All-Rivalry Team vs. South Carolina
QB: Charlie Whitehurst (2002-’05)
RB: Buddy Gore (1966-’68)
RB: Ken Callicutt (1973-’75, 77)
WR: Rod Gardner (1997-2000)
WR: Jerry Butler (1975-’78)
TE: Bennie Cunningham (1972-’75)
OL: Jeff Bostic (1977-’79)
OL: Joe Bostic (1975-’78)
OL: Harry Olszewski (1965-’67)
OL: Jeb Flesch (1988-’91)
OL: Stacy Long (1986, 1988-’90)
K: Mark Buchholz (2007-’08)
—Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications