2 In a Row

South Carolina dominated Clemson for the second consecutive year in a 29-7 victory over the Tigers in Death Valley. The Gamecocks will head into next week's SEC Championship game at 9-3 with a chance to win 10 games for only the second time in school history.

As Clemson fans rolled out of Williams-Brice Stadium after South Carolina's final touchdown in a 34-17 victory over the Tigers last season, Gamecock broadcaster Todd Ellis said; "There's orange in the parking lot!" As Clemson back-up quarterback Tajh Boyd rolled back on a 4th down play in the fourth quarter and was sacked by Gamecock defensive end Cliff Matthews and Boyd's fumble was recovered by Travian Robertson, Tiger fans again headed for the parking lot as South Carolina wrapped up a 29-7 victory over Clemson in Death Valley.

"It was a good win for the Gamecocks," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. "The defense was outstanding. After that first drive we pretty much shut them down."

The Gamecocks finish the season 9-3, the third time in history it has won nine games in a season. The Tigers finish a disappointing 6-6.

"This was a very disappointing season," Tiger head coach Dabo Swinney said. "To lose to USC is very unacceptable. Our future is bright, but it's awful dark right now."

Clemson won the toss and elected to receive and it turned out to be a good decision as the Tigers scored in just four plays. Kyle Parker hit DeAndre Hopkins on the second play of the game with a bubble screen that Hopkins took 30 yards to the Gamecock 42 yard line. Two plays later, Parker found a wide open Hopkins down the sidelines for a 45-yard touchdown play to quickly give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. That would be it for the Tigers as the Gamecocks defense limited Clemson to just 178 yards the rest of the game.

"This was a very disappointing game," Swinney said. "We didn't play smart. I am just very disappointed in how we played, I can't put it any other way. You have to give credit to USC and how they played."

After the Gamecocks had two successful plays with Marcus Lattimore rushing for 16 yards, the Gamecocks abonded the run. Carolina went with an unsuccessful Garcia draw, a quick pass to Patrick DiMarco, and the drive appeared to stall as Garcia overthrew Alshon Jeffery on a fade pass. However, a personal foul on the Tigers after the play was over gave the Gamecocks a first down in Clemson territory. The Gamecocks refused to go back to Lattimore and the ground game and had to settle for a Spencer Lanning 46-yard field goal attempt that Lanning kicked 48 yards to just get over the crossbar to make it a 7-3 game. It was nearly the exact way the Florida game started two years ago.

"Florida ran the opening kick back against us," Spurrier said. "We came back and got a field goal. Sure enough tonight, after they scored we put a semi-drive on and Spencer Lanning knocked in a 46-yard field goal to make it 7-3 and we're right back in the game."

After the two teams traded three and outs, Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman couldn't handle a high snap and it was recovered by the Gamecocks' Brian Maddox down at the Clemson 5. On the first play Garcia hit DiMarco in the flats for a touchdown to quickly put the Gamecocks on top, 9-7. However, Clemson's Brandon Thompson got his hand on the extra point and it came up short. Again, eerily similar to the game with the Gators.

"We missed an extra point like the Florida game," Spurrier said. "(We) had it blocked so it was 9-7. Fortunately we moved on out with the way our defense played."

Facing 3rd-and-3 from the Tiger 37 on the first play of the second quarter, Spurrier drew up a play that was implemented in the playbook this week.

"That was one we put in this week," Spurrier said. "It was a rollout-throw back."

Garcia rolled right and threw a perfect pass across his body to Jeffery crossing the field for a touchdown. Lanning's extra point was good and it was 16-7 Gamecocks.

"We saw a lot of teams do that throughout the week watching film," Garcia said. "It's a rollout and he's running a post back across the field and he beat the guy down field and made a great catch and scored."

"It took forever because I thought he wasn't going to throw it," Jeffery said. "It was a great throw and a great catch. I saw the safety roll over the top so I said 'oh yea he's going to throw it to me.'"

After a Marcus Gilchrist 39-yard return plus a personal foul on the Gamecocks, the Tigers were sitting pretty at the Gamecock 38-yard line. After a 2-yard Jamie Harper run, back-to-back incompletions ended the drive and Zimmerman's punt landed in the end zone for a touchback.

On the ensuing drive, Garcia found Jeffery again, this time on a deep slant over the middle for 41 yards down to the Tiger 13-yard line. The drive stalled from there and Lanning kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Gamecocks a 19-7 lead. The Gamecocks tried to add three more on the final play of the half, but Lanning's 50-yard attempt was well right and the Gamecocks took a 19-7 lead into the locker room.

"Our kicker - Spencer Lanning - he was sensational," Spurrier said. "To win any kind of championship you've got to have a good kicker and we've got a super kicker. He got a game ball."

Lanning finished the night 2-for-3 on extra points and 3-for-3 on field goals (46, 25, 37). Lanning also averaged 46 yards on four punts and twice in the second half backed the Tigers up inside their 10, including a beauty that rolled out of bounds just before hitting the pylon in the corner of the end zone.

After Clemson's opening drive of 73 yards, the Tigers were held to 39 yards of total offense the remainder of the half, including just seven yards on ground on 14 carries.

On Clemson's opening drive of the second half, Parker inexplicably through the ball right to Antonio Allen who returned it 37 yards for the score to give the Gamecocks a 26-7 lead and end Parker's night.

"Antonio was in position," Spurrier said. "Sometimes he drops those, but he's catching them now. All of them are catching them now. Antonio Allen is turning into an outstanding strong safety. He's really played well."

"I was coming on a blitz and the running back cleared and I had to clear with him," Allen said. "I didn't think the quarterback was going to throw it to me, but he threw it right to me and I was there to make the play."

It was the fifth interception returned for a touchdown this season for the Gamecock defense.

"We've been getting a lot of criticism about being the downfall of the team and stuff like that, but we got it together these last few weeks and came through," Allen said.

Jeffery finished the night with 141 receiving yards on five catches and a touchdown.

"Alshon Jeffery had a bunch of good catches," Spurrier said.

"It's so easy just throwing the ball up to him and worst come to worst he'll get a pass interference like he did tonight," Garcia said. "We're very fortunate to him at wide receiver for sure."

Garcia was good enough on the night. He finished 14-for-30 with 227 yards and two touchdown passes. More importantly than that Garcia threw the ball away when he needed to and didn't throw an interception or was sacked all night.

"He threw the ball away and took care of it," Spurrier said. "We played with no turnovers and that's always crucial. He threw some good balls."

"I should have thrown the ball away sooner instead of getting hit," Garcia said. "We're still learning how to play this game though."

After those two successful runs by Lattimore, he was all but shut down the rest of the way. Lattimore was held out of the end zone for only the second time all season, finishing with just 48 yards on 23 carries.

"(Tiger defensive coordinator) Kevin Steele had an excellent plan," Spurrier said. "We couldn't run the ball on these guys. We tried a little bit of everything and the only way we could move it was throwing it. Fortunately we didn't have to run the ball much in the second half. They're about as good as anybody we've faced."

"Last year we allowed USC about 200 rushing yards," Swinney said. "Tonight we only gave up 97 rushing yards. I'm proud of how our guys played up front, especially (Jarvis) Jenkins and (Brandon) Thompson."

For the first time since winning in 1968, 1969, and 1970, the Gamecocks have a winning streak against the Tigers, breaking a 40-year drought of not beating Clemson twice in a row.

"Two in a row I guess is good because it hasn't happened in a long time," Spurrier said. "You would have thought that would have happened in the last 40 years, but I guess it hasn't. We've done some firsts this year and there's another first out there next week that we're going to try and do."

It has been a seasons of firsts for the Gamecocks. For the first time in school history, the Gamecocks have beaten the #1 team in the country with a 35-21 win over then-#1 Alabama in Columbia on October 9th. On November 13th, the Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators for the first time ever inside the "Swamp" in a 36-14 beating, that also gave the Gamecocks their first SEC East Championship in school history. Now the Gamecocks can add another notch in its belt with its second win in a row over Clemson.

"Coach Spurrier's been talking a lot about first time for this and that," Garcia said. "We're doing a lot of firsts around here this season and hopefully we can keep going and get that first SEC Championship."

The Gamecocks will be making its first appearance in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship game against undefeated Auburn and will be looking for another first by winning the SEC Championship.

"We'll enjoy this one tonight and get ready for the big one next week," Spurrier said. "Next week is one of the biggest games we've ever played in and we're looking forward to it. We've got a bunch of guys that like going on the big stage."

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