COLUMBIA, S.C. (University of South Carolina) - Turning three of Clemson turnovers into touchdowns, No. 10/9 South Carolina (10-2) used 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points to claim a 31-17 win over the No. 6/4 Tigers (10-2) on Saturday evening in front of 84,174 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks' fifth straight in the series against their archrivals.
Gamecock senior quarterback Connor Shaw posted 246 yards of total offense in the win, running for one touchdown and passing for another, his 26th as a starter for South Carolina and his 17th at home, never losing a start at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles tallied a career-high 2.5 sacks and tied for the team lead with six tackles. Interceptions by junior Brison Williams, sophomore T.J. Holloman and freshman Skai Moore along with fumbles forced by senior Chaz Sutton and sophomore Kaiwan Lewis accounted for five of the six Clemson turnovers. Moore also recovered the first Tiger fumble.
The Gamecocks capitalized on two Clemson turnovers in the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Williams ended Clemson's opening drive with a leaping interception in the end zone, and South Carolina drove 80 yards in 17 plays, the fourth-longest drive by plays in the Steve Spurrier era, to take a 7-0 lead. Shaw capped the drive with a 3-yard run.
After the Tigers answered less than two minutes later on Tajh Boyd's 8-yard run, South Carolina received a gift back. The Tigers forced the Gamecocks to punt, but Clemson's return man had the ball hit off his pads, and Moore recovered, giving the Gamecocks new life. Five plays later on the first of the second quarter, Shaw hit sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland with the fade pass from 9 yards out to put South Carolina on top 14-7.
The Gamecocks' advantage grew to 10 when freshman Elliott Fry hit a 21-yard field goal with 8:25 left in the first half. The Tigers drew within a touchdown when Chandler Catanzaro's 38-yard field goal connected from 38 yards out as time expired. South Carolina held the ball for 19:42 of the first half, compared to 10:18 for Clemson, and converted eight of its 11 third-down tries.
Clemson posted a drive more reminiscent of South Carolina's offense to tie the game in the third quarter. Roderick McDowell capped a 15-play, 88-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, and the point after evened the score at 17-17 with 3:01 left. But South Carolina responded with an drive that covered 75 yards in 11 plays, with sophomore running back Mike Davis wrapping it with a 2-yard run, the first touchdown for Davis since the Tennessee game.
With Clemson driving early in the fourth quarter, Sutton stripped the Tiger quarterback of the football at the Gamecock 30-yard line, giving South Carolina the ball back with 8:38 to play. The Tigers forced a Gamecock punt, but Lewis forced a fumble from the returner, and redshirt freshman Kwinton Smith recovered it to give the Gamecocks new life with 5:18 to play. Three plays after the second fumble of the quarter, Gamecock freshman Pharoh Cooper, on the option pass, floated one to sophomore Brandon Wilds, who took it to the end zone for the 26-yard score. Fry's kick put the Gamecocks up 31-17 with 3:44 to play.
Interceptions by Moore and Holloman with less than four minutes to play helped to seal the game for South Carolina, who captured its fifth game in the series. That is the longest winning streak in the series against Clemson, topping a four-game winning streak from 1951-54.
Davis' score in the fourth quarter marked his 11th of the year, tied for the sixth most in a single season in Gamecock history. Shaw, who went 14-for-26 for 152 yards and a touchdown, passed Phil Petty in career pass completions and now stands fifth in program annals. Shaw also led the Gamecocks with 94 yards rushing. Junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington became the fourth South Carolina student-athlete to catch 100 passes in his career, hauling in four on the night for 51 yards to lead the team.
Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had three tackles, including two for loss and one sack. The sack moved Clowney past John Abraham into third on the Gamecocks' career sacks list.
South Carolina will wait to learn its postseason destination, with the bowl announcements set to come on Sun., Dec. 8.
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