South Carolina rallied from an early 14-0 deficit and nine-point deficit after halftime to snap No. 8 Clemson’s series and home winning streaks with a 31-30 victory on Saturday at Death Valley.
With the loss, Clemson’s seven-game winning streak against South Carolina and 40-game home winning streak dating back to 2016 came to an end.
Clemson’s defense stepped up down the stretch, coming up with two strong back-to-back three-and-out stops. However, a fumble by freshman Antonio Williams on Clemson’s punt return gave South Carolina the ball back with 2:05 left to play, and a first down conversion on third-and-4 sealed the victory for the Gamecocks.
Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei finished 8-of-29 passing for just 99 yards and a touchdown with one interception, also rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler completed 25 of his 39 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns with two picks.
Will Shipley accounted for a large portion of Clemson’s 336 total yards of offense, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He reached 1,000 rushing yards on the season to record the 23rd 1,000-yard rushing season in school history.
South Carolina receiver Antwane Wells Jr. had 131 receving yards and two touchdown catches for the Gamecocks, who amassed 414 total yards of offense.
What was a nine-point game at halftime in favor of Clemson went into the fourth quarter with the Tigers leading by two after South Carolina found the end zone twice in the third quarter.
Jaheim Bell cut South Carolina’s deficit to 23-21 on a 2-yard touchdown run before Clemson answered back with an 11-yard touchdown run by Shipley. Just two plays into the Gamecocks’ next possession, Rattler connected with Wells Jr. for a 72-yard touchdown strike that made the score 30-28 Clemson with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
After a scoreless Clemson drive, South Carolina took the lead for the first time with what turned out to be the game-wining 35-yard field goal, making the score 31-30 with 10:54 left in the game.
Clemson took a two-score lead into the locker room after a wild first half that featured a slew of momentum swings.
Following a near pick-six on Clemson’s first possession, South Carolina threw a pick-six on its next offensive play. Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. returned Rattler’s interception 35 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes into the first quarter, giving the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.
Clemson (10-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead with an eight-play, 90-yard touchdown drive on its second possession, which Uiagalelei finished off by weaving through defenders for a 9-yard touchdown run.
South Carolina (8-4) started to get some momentum toward the end of the first quarter and was able to cut its deficit to 14-7 with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rattler to Wells Jr. after the Gamecocks elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal early in the second quarter.
Clemson’s defense got its second score of the first half after Aidan Swanson’s 52-yard punt pinned the Gamecocks’ offense at its own 2-yard line. On the first play of the possession, Rattler was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety – the second in as many games for Clemson’s defense — that gave the Tigers a 16-7 lead with 10:05 left before halftime.
The Tigers got the ball back thanks to the safety, but trickeration on the return – which saw Shipley hand the ball off to Phil Mafah in a scrum huddle — ended with Mafah fumbling the ball back to South Carolina.
South Carolina capitalized on the turnover, with Rattler capping a four-play, 37-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run that cut the Gamecocks’ deficit to 16-14 at the 8:24 mark of the second quarter.
Clemson answered right back, though, to regain a two-score lead. Uiagalelei hooked up with Williams for an 11-yard touchdown that gave the Tigers a 23-14 lead going into the half.
Clemson ran for 237 yards but committed three turnovers. Defensively, the Tigers had 11 tackles for loss and three sacks and only 54 yards rushing on 31 carries, but allowed 360 yards through the air.
Along with the series and home winning streaks, South Carolina put an end to any chances Clemson had of returning to the College Football Playoff.
Clemson will return to action next Saturday to face North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte is set for 8 p.m. on ABC.
Don’t miss Cyber Week Deals at Dear Old Clemson’s online store. Deals will run through midnight Monday.
- Footballs signed by the Clemson 2022 class discounted by 30%.
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