Growing up a Clemson fan in high school was not an easy thing for Hunter Renfrow. In fact, it kind of sucked.
From his eighth grade year, all the way through high school, Renfrow never had bragging rights after the Palmetto Bowl as South Carolina beat his Tigers five straight years from 2009-‘13. But that all changed for the Myrtle Beach native during his freshman year at Clemson in 2014.
The Tigers won their first of four straight in the series that year, including this past Saturday’s 34-10 victory over the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Clemson has outscored the Gamecocks 162-66 in those four meetings.
“We always would hear ‘fear the thumb’ and all of that. It definitely motivated me being from the state of South Carolina,” Renfrow said.
Renfrow used that motivation to play a big role in the Tigers’ win over South Carolina on Saturday. He hauled in four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard touchdown on a screen pass in which he weaved his way in and out of traffic on the first play from scrimmage to start the second half.
The 61-yard touchdown made the score 27-0 at the time. The redshirt junior admitted he knew the South Carolina players were beat after that play.
“They stopped (talking) a little bit,” he said. “I think they had a little hope when it was 20-0 kind of at halftime and we, kind of on that first play, hit that and they were kind of down a little bit and we knew we had them for the rest of the game.”
There was a lot of trash talking at Williams-Brice Stadium, not only on the field, but from the stands as well. South Carolina students start cursing and throwing things at the Clemson players as soon as they came on to the field for pre-game stretching.
When Clemson did its usual “Victory March,” which began in the Tommy Bowden era at Clemson, South Carolina students gave them the No. 1 sign, except with their middle fingers, while using foul language as well. The “Victory March” is when Clemson players lock arms during every pre-game warm up and walk side-by-side in unity from about the 40-yard line to their goal line.
“For us it is about coming together one last time during pregame and going arm-and-arm and just that unity,” Renfrow said. “We are walking through that environment and we are going as one. I think that is what is. We were walking straight into the student section so there might be a little misconception.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was penalized with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when a Coca-Cola Bottle came flying out of the stands and hit Renfrow in his back following his 4-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Kelly Bryant just before halftime.
Renfrow did not feel the bottle hit him, though there was a picture on social media taken by Greenville News photographer Bart Boatwright which shows the bottle hitting off him.
“I wish I would have seen it, then I would have flipped it and it may have landed the right way,” the wide receiver said. “You would see them throw stuff in pregame and stuff like that. I don’t think Coach Swinney was mad about the plastic bottles, but you could get a glass bottle and maybe break it off and it was dangerous. We know it was not everybody in the student-section … it was just a few of them. Yeah, it was not safe at all.”
But in the end, Clemson had the last laugh as it rolled to an easy victory and claimed its fourth straight victory over the Gamecocks. For a kid that grew up a Clemson fan and had to deal with the five-game losing streak almost every day of his high school career, it was a good feeling.
“It’s good to get that fourth one,” Renfrow said. “I count the one during my (redshirt) freshman year as a win. Maybe if we would have lost, I would not have counted it, but I will count it and go ahead and get the fifth one next year.”