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Saturday, November 24, 2012
S. Carolina stifles Clemson in second half

By David Helman


This one is bound to be full of statistics Clemson fans don't want to hear. South Carolina's 27-17 win Saturday in the Battle for the Palmetto State didn't just secure a win over its archrival, it was the No. 12 Gamecocks' fourth consecutive win against the No. 11 Tigers for the first time since 1954. It was also their third win in their past four trips to Clemson's Death Valley. On top of all that, it was the win that made Steve Spurrier the winningest coach in South Carolina history.

It looked certain that Clemson's high-octane offense would have its way in the game's opening quarters. Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd fired off 131 yards and a touchdown, along with a rushing touchdown en route to a 14-10 Clemson lead at halftime. All of the hallmarks of the Tigers' attack were there, including a 43-yard scoring strike to receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

But it was the Gamecocks, led once again by Dylan Thompson in lieu of injured starter Connor Shaw, who ruled the day in the second half. Thompson completed 23 of 41 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns -- most notably a 34-yard throw to do-everything receiver Ace Sanders, who dodged two different tacklers on the way into the end zone. The score came just four minutes into the second half and put South Carolina up for good.

Clemson was never able to respond because South Carolina put the clamps on Boyd and Company after making halftime adjustments. The Tigers couldn't do anything after the break, as they were limited to just a field goal. Though they put together scoring drives of 85 and 75 yards in the first half, the Tigers were held to a meager 79 yards of offense in the second half.

Plenty of credit for that goes to South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who terrorized Boyd for five sacks on the night.

The Tigers' inability to move the ball led to an absurd edge in possession time for the Gamecocks, who ended the game with a 39:58 to 20:02 advantage. Clemson kept the score within six until late in the fourth quarter when its defense eventually broke down. Thompson found South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington for a 13-yard touchdown -- his second score of the night -- with 4:17 to play. The touchdown gave South Carolina the final 10-point margin.