Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw was one of those individuals. Shaw rushed for a career high 107 yards, threw for another 210, and scored a total of four touchdowns as he led South Carolina past in-state rival Clemson by a score of 34-13.
Shaw's performance earned praise and respect from not only head coach Steve Spurrier, but his teammates as well. What was most significant, Spurrier noted, was the zero in the turnover column.
"He played with no turnovers, no interceptions. That was huge," Spurrier said. "He doesn't have very many stupid plays. He's gained confidence."
"[Connor] came in really focused and played well. The offensive line did a great job blocking, and Connor hit his targets," freshman tight end Buster Anderson said, who caught a touchdown from Shaw to take the lead early in the second half. "He played like he had been practicing all year."
Senior Kenny Miles was another standout performer for the Garnet and Black. Miles rushed for his highest mark of the season totaling 71 yards on a 21 carries. His 28-yard scamper in the second quarter tied a career high. He was the focal running back in the Carolina offense for the first time since last year's game against Vanderbilt. Miles was given the opportunity to shoulder the load when freshman Brandon Wilds "seemed like he was running into guys."
"[Wilds] wasn't quite as elusive as we thought he could be. And Kenny deserves a shot," Spurrier said. "None of us are afraid to put to put the next guy in if one of them seems to struggle a little bit. Brandon did OK, but let's see what Kenny can do."
Despite limited playing time throughout the last two years which has caused Miles to reconsider finishing out his final year of eligibility, the redshirt junior said he was ready to go when his name was called.
"I just felt like today I got a little more opportunities than I usually get, and I tried to take advantage of it the best I could," Miles said. "My dad always used to tell me to always be ready so that you don't have to get ready. I was prepared to come out. I studied film as if I were the starter."
While Miles was in the spotlight for the first time this season, the defensive front four for Carolina was yet again an unstoppable force. But this performance by the defense, perhaps because of the opponent, Spurrier said was "one of the best."
We had excellent games against Vandy and Kentucky. They didn't go anywhere, those two teams against us," Spurrier said. "A team with as high potent an offense as Clemson has or used to have… it was very good to see our guys have another excellent defensive game."
Thanks to a suffocating effort from the defensive unit that included five sacks, time of possession swung in favor of the Gamecocks by a total of 37 minutes to Clemson's 22. In the final regular season game of the season, the one consistent asset for Carolina delivered yet again, in a big way.
Freshman wide receiver Bruce Ellington caught his first touchdown pass as a Gamecock on a 49-yard strike from Connor Shaw on Carolina's second drive of the game. The pass was the longest of both Ellington and Shaw's careers. Ellington finished the game with three catches for 71 yards, setting a career high in yardage. Bruce is "free to go" as Steve Spurrier said he is no longer obligated to practice with the football team and can resume basketball activities.
Shaw logged 107 yards rushing on the night, marking a career high and the first time a South Carolina quarterback has gone over the century mark since Sept 14, 2002, when Corey Jenkins ran for 101 yards vs. Georgia. The sophomore quarterback was responsible for four touchdowns on the night, rushing for one (seventh of season) and throwing for three (12 for season). His three passing touchdowns mark back-to-back weeks with a trio of passing scores.
Freshman tight end Rory Anderson caught a career-long 55-yard pass from Shaw, who broke his previous career long of a 49-yard pass on the play set earlier in the game. The long pass play set up Anderson's third score of the year on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Shaw that put the Gamecocks up 24-10 in the third quarter.
Junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery caught his seventh touchdown of the season late in the fourth quarter to put the Gamecocks up 34-13. Jeffery finished the game with two catches for 29 yards, moving him up to sixth place (2,894) on the All-Time SEC Career Reception Yardage list. The junior wide receiver's 18-yard touchdown was the 22nd of his career, putting him one touchdown reception behind the career leader, Kenny McKinley (23).
The Garnet and Black offense went 2-2 on fourth downs and 4-4 in red zone scoring for the game. The offensive unit gained 420 yards on the night, the fourth time this year the Gamecocks have gained over 400 yards in a game.
Junior tight end Justice Cunningham's reception for 16 yards set a season long for him.
Senior place kicker Jay Wooten's 47-yard field goal and Shaw's 49-yard touchdown pass to Ellington marked the first time that Carolina has scored twice in the first quarter since Nov. 27, 2010, against Clemson.
Senior defensive lineman Melvin Ingram picked up two sacks in the game, giving him a team leading 8.5 sacks on the year. His pair of sacks resulted in a total loss of 19 yards. Ingram was also credited with five tackles and a quarterback hurry in the game.
Junior safety DeVonte Holloman picked up his first interception of the year late in the fourth quarter. Holloman returned the ball 26 yards and set up the 18-yard Alshon Jeffery touchdown.
Senior Antonio Allen led the team in tackles for the fourth time this year with his seven stops on the night.
Junior defensive end Devin Taylor was credited with his fifth sack of the year, and freshman Jadeveon Clowney logged his sixth sack of the year.
Senior Travian Robertson collected his second sack of the year and was credited with two quarterback hurries in the game.
The Gamecock defense held Clemson to 153 yards of total offense on the night, marking the third time this season that they have held an opponent under 200 yards of offense.
Clemson's blocked punt in the second quarter was the first given up by the Gamecocks since playing Clemson on Nov. 29, 2008.
Senior place kicker Jay Wooten was 2-2 on field goals in the game (47, 37) marking the second time this season that he has scored twice for the Gamecocks.
With the win, South Carolina moves to 10-2 on the year, marking just the second time the Gamecocks have reached the 10-win mark in their history.
The Gamecocks have a chance to win their 11th game for the first time ever in the upcoming bowl game. Tonight's win also gives the Gamecocks 19 wins over the past two seasons, extending their record for wins in back to back years.
The Gamecocks have now beaten Clemson for three straight years for the first time since 1968-70. The win over the Tigers now extends South Carolina's regular season non-conference winning streak to 12 games.
Tonight's attendance was 83,422, logging the highest mark of the season, and the 14th highest in Williams-Brice Stadium history.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT:
"You know 10 years from now we'll be able to say that we beat Clemson three years in a row. It's one of those game you'll remember." - Melvin Ingram
NOTEBOOK: Night of firsts
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