Recap: So Carolina vs. Clemson
Columbia, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney pledged he'd never to lose to Clemson in his career.
His promise has been fulfilled.
The No. 10 Gamecocks forced six turnovers Saturday and defeated No. 6 Clemson 31-17 in the Palmetto State Showdown.
"Tonight sealed the deal. I will not lose to Clemson. I am very excited," Clowney said. "I could have gone anywhere in the country, and I chose to come to South Carolina. It's been the best decision of my life probably."
South Carolina (10-2), which forced four of those giveaways in the fourth quarter, won its record fifth straight over the Tigers (10-2) in a series that began in 1896 and extended its school record home winning streak to 18 games.
The Gamecocks were waiting on No. 5 Missouri's result against Texas A&M to see if they'd have a game to play next Saturday, but the Tigers beat the Aggies 28-21 to clinch the SEC East Division crown and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
Many of the South Carolina faithful remained to watch the Missouri/Texas A&M game on the stadium's video board.
South Carolina broke a 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns. Mike Davis plunged in from two yards out with 11:47 left and Pharoh Cooper tossed a 26-yard TD pass to Brandon Wilds with 3:44 remaining.
Saturday may have marked the final home game for the junior defensive end Clowney, who is considered by many experts to be one of the NFL Draft's top picks. He is expected to leave school. Clowney tallied his first sack since Sept. 14 against Vanderbilt.
It was another struggle for Tajh Boyd against Clowney and the South Carolina defense.
Boyd, who had been sacked 14 times and thrown for just 339 yards to go with two touchdowns and three interceptions in three prior appearances against the Gamecocks, tossed both of his interceptions in the final 4:00. He was 19-of-27 for 225 yards and was sacked five times.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot, we had opportunities and did not take advantage of them. We are playing a top-10 team, and every year we have lost the turnover margin," Boyd said.
Senior Connor Shaw, who finished his career a perfect 17-0 as a starter at Williams-Brice Stadium, completed 14-of-26 passes for 152 yards and a score. He added 94 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries for the Gamecocks.
Sammy Watkins caught seven passes for 93 yards for the Tigers, who still lead the all-time series between the schools, 65-42-4.
After Davis' TD plunge gave the Gamecocks a seven-point cushion, Boyd led the Tigers down to the South Carolina 33 before Chaz Sutton ripped the ball out of his hands on a 3-yard rush.
Clemson's defense forced a punt, but Adam Humphries fumbled the ball right back to South Carolina and Cooper hit Wilds for the game-clinching score three plays later.
Earlier, Boyd was 5-for-5 on Clemson's opening drive, but the Tigers gave the ball away when Brison Williams intercepted Watkins' underthrown half-back pass.
Shaw then capped a 17-play march, the Gamecocks' longest drive of the season, with a 3-yard TD run.
Boyd connected with Watkins for a 57-yard catch and run on the Tigers' next touch, which led to a Boyd 8-yard TD scamper late in the first.
Shaw flipped a 9-yard TD pass to Shaq Roland early in the second and Elliott Fry nailed a 21-yard field goal midway through the frame to make it 17-7 in favor of the Gamecocks.
Chandler Catanzaro's 38-yard field goal on the final play of the half cut the Clemson deficit to 17-10 heading into the break.
Roderick McDowell's 4-yard TD run knotted the tilt at 17-17 with 3:01 remaining in the third.Game Notes
Saturday was the first time both schools were ranked in the series ... Clemson
outgained South Carolina, 352-318 ... The Gamecocks were 10-of-19 on third
down, while the Tigers finished 6-of-11.