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South Carolina tops Clemson, misses SEC title game

The SportsXchange

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina Gamecocks did the job on the field but didn't get the help it needed from Texas A&M.

The Gamecocks forced six turnovers and continued their recent dominance over the rival Clemson Tigers with a 31-17 victory on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.

But South Carolina missed out on a chance to play in the SEC championship game when Missouri defeated the Aggies on Saturday night. The result puts Missouri in the SEC title game next Saturday in Atlanta against Auburn.

It is the first time in 111 career meetings that the No. 10 Gamecocks have won five games in a row in the series with the Tigers. They have limited Clemson to no more than 17 points in all five games.

The victory also extended South Carolina's home winning streak to 18 games and senior quarterback Connor Shaw finished his career with a 17-0 home record.

"Our guys play really well here at Williams-Brice," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "The fans were super. That is one of the loudest atmospheres we've had here. We're not that great of a team, but the guys hung in there and just kept playing. It was a good win for all Gamecocks."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was disappointed in the loss and said ultimately the blame falls on him.

"Obviously, our locker room is hurting greatly and so is our fan base," Swinney said. "This is a game that everybody wants and it's nobody's responsibility but mine, period. We didn't get it done. Our guys played very hard, but we did not do the things that you have to do to win the game. The bragging rights stay with South Carolina and they've earned it."

Shaw closes his career with two wins over Clemson as the starting quarterback and never lost to him in his four seasons.

"It's special," Shaw said. "Special to me, special to the players, the seniors, the program. This is why we came to South Carolina and to finish out not losing to (Clemson) is huge."

Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd's woes continue against his in-state rival. Boyd finishes his career 0-3 as the starting quarterback against the Gamecocks and his two fourth-quarter interceptions and fumble were part of the problem.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot," Boyd said. "We had opportunities and did not take advantage of them. We are playing a top-10 team and every year we have lost the turnover margin. Ultimately, I think that sums up the story every year."

The Gamecocks scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns after No. 6 Clemson tied the score late in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Roderick McDowell.

Sophomore running back Mike Davis had the go-ahead score on a 2-yard run with 11:47 remaining for South Carolina. The short run capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive to consume 6:14 of the clock.

Overall, the six turnovers led directly to 21 points for the Gamecocks.

"We helped limit our possessions because we turned it over six times," Swinney said. "It's just very frustrating when things like that happen but that's football and you have to overcome it."

Spurrier said the five-game winning streak has been nearly the same each season.

"Amazingly, when we play these guys from Clemson, the script follows the same thing," Spurrier said. "It was a wonderful win for us. We are happy. They are a good team that continues not playing well when they play us for some reason."

South Carolina (10-2) made it a two-possession game after Adam Humphries fumbled his second punt of the game. Kwinton Smith recovered at the Clemson 34-yard line. Three plays later, wildcat quarterback Pharoh Cooper hit running back Brandon Wilds on a jump pass for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:44 remaining.

Clemson (10-2) had tied the score late in the third quarter with a methodical 15-play, 88-yard drive. South Carolina aided the drive by jumping offside on a fourth-and-1 from its 30-yard line. Roderick McDowell ran it in from 4 yards to make it 17-17 with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter.

NOTES: Three South Carolina juniors -- DE Jadeveon Clowney, CB Vic Hampton and DT Kelcy Quarles -- took part of Senior Day activities. All three are expected to enter the NFL draft. ... The Gamecocks registered five sacks for minus-46 yards. Last year, they had six in a 27-17 win over Clemson. ... Clemson committed just 22 turnovers on the season, but 10 of those came in the losses to South Carolina and Florida State.
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