Alshon Jeffery shows up to answer Gamecocks’ Hail Mary prayer, then gets tossed

Matt Hinton

Given the preseason hype, it's been a relatively quiet year for freakish South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery: Going into Monday's Capital One Bowl tilt with Nebraska, his junior campaign had yielded just 45 catches for 614 yards, less than half his output en route to All-America honors in 2010. If this was his farewell tour in a South Carolina uniform, though, he made it count in the first half.

With the Gamecocks trailing 13-9 and the clock ticking down at the end of the first half, quarterback Conner Shaw threw up a prayer from his own 40-yard line into a pack of players waiting just outside of the end zone — only one of whom goes 6-foot-4 with the athleticism to elevate above the crowd, snatch the jump ball out of the air and spin across the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown with no time on the clock. Jeffery's leaping, spinning score put South Carolina up 16-13 going into the half, and gave him his longest reception of the season from 51 yards out.

It may turn out to be his last, too, after he was tossed from the game in the second half for a shoving match with Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. The ejection is the end of Jeffery's season, and with the NFL draft calling, may also be the end of his college career. If so, it's an appropriate exit — equal parts spectacular and frustrating, all in the same breath.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.