South Carolina shocks Clemson with 31-30 win in Death Valley
South Carolina snapped a seven game losing streak to Clemson on Saturday, upsetting the No. 8 Tigers 31-30.
The game was truly back and forth throughout, with both teams never fully capturing the momentum in the game. But clutch special teams and defensive showings from South Carolina proved to be the ultimate key to victory.
Both teams didn’t get much of anything going on their first drives, but Clemson set the tone on defense early.
On the first play of South Carolina’s second drive, Jeremiah Trotter sat on a route across the middle and picked Spencer Rattler off. Trotter proceeded to take the interception 36 yards to the end zone, giving Clemson an early 7-0 lead.
Clemson kept its attack up on the ensuing offensive drive, putting together a methodical 90 yard scoring drive. DJ Uiagalelei capped the drive off with a nine yard rushing touchdown.
South Carolina wasn’t able to respond on offense until early in the second quarter. Spencer Rattler found Juice Wells in the back of the end zone on fourth and goal to cut the lead to 14-7.
The touchdown was South Carolina’s first against Clemson since 2018.
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The Gamecock defense stepped up and got a stop when it needed one, but the punt from Clemson’s Aidan Swanson pinned South Carolina at its own two yard line.
The phenomenal punt ended up working in favor of the Tigers, who sacked Spencer Rattler in the end zone for a safety a play later.
Clemson’s special teams magic was short lived though. The Tigers tried to pull off a trick play on the ensuing kick return, but fumbled the ball and South Carolina recovered deep in Clemson territory.
Rattler used his legs to get into the end zone a few plays later and pull South Carolina closer, cutting Clemson’s lead to 16-14. Rattler had an imperfect first half, he was 12-for-23 through the air with 207 yards and threw two costly interceptions.
Uiagalelei was able to extend Clemson’s lead to 23-14 going into the half when he found Irmo native Antonio Williams in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
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Clemson got the ball to start the second half and went three and out, gaining zero yards on the drive. The Gamecocks locked down on the ensuing drive as well, forcing Clemson to punt on back-to-back drives.
The South Carolina offense capitalized on the momentum put together a quick four play scoring drive. Jaheim Bell found pay dirt this time for the Gamecocks, scoring on a two yard rush and cutting Clemson’s lead to 23-21.
On their next offensive drive, the Gamecocks stalled and had to punt. The Tigers scored quickly after.
Will Shipley found the end zone on an 11 yard rush to extend Clemsons lead to 30-21. Shipley continued to carry the Tiger offense, rushing for 132 yards and averaging 8.8 yards per play. With his performance today he eclipse 1,000 yards for the season.
Rattler and the Gamecocks responded to the score with one of their own almost immediately. The quarterback found Juice Wells deep down field for a 72 yard touchdown reception. The score cut Clemson’s lead to 30-28.
Rattler was an entirely different quarterback in the second half. He was 6-for-6 with 120 yards. Wells dominated throughout, bringing in nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter that South Carolina finally broke through and took the lead from Clemson. Mitch Jeter hit a 35-yard field goal that put the Gamecocks up 31-30. The lead change was the first that South Carolina had been a part of against a Power 5 opponent this entire season.
The remainder of the fourth quarter was back and forth and very tine once team appeared to have the edge, they simply didn’t.
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Marcellas Dial picked off Uiagalelei late in the fourth but the Gamecocks couldn’t muster any positive yardage on the ensuing drive. Uiagalelei finished the game 8-for-29 through the air with 99 yards
Kai Kroeger proceeded to pin the Tigers deep on their own two yard line and Clemson had send out the punt team for the 9th time in the game shortly after.
South Carolina punted the ball late in the fourth quarter and Clemson’s returner fumbled the ball. Nick Emmanwori recovered it and gave the Gamecocks the ball in Clemson territory, allowing them to ice the game.