COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw rushed for a career-high 107 yards and a touchdown and threw for three scores to lead No. 14/13 South Carolina to a 34-13 victory over No. 18/17 Clemson on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium to close out the regular season.
With the victory, the Gamecocks (10-2) reach the 10-win mark for the second time in school history. The win is also South Carolina's third straight over the archrival Tigers (9-3).
"We were hoping to play our best game of the year and we probably did," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. "Defense was sensational all night. Offensively, we did enough good things here and there to run for over 200 yards and pass for the exact (same) amount. That's sort of our formula for winning."
Shaw delivered one of his best games as a Gamecock as he averaged 5.6 yards on 19 carries and completed 14-of-20 passes for 210 yards.
"Connor can take care of the ball and run with it," Spurrier said. "He played with no turnovers, no interceptions. That was huge. He doesn't have very many stupid plays. He's gained confidence."
Senior running back Kenny Miles added 71 yards rushing on 21 carries, as South Carolina racked up 210 yards on the ground. Freshman Bruce Ellington led the receiving corps with three receptions for 71 yards and a score. Freshman tight end Rory Anderson hauled in two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, while junior Alshon Jeffery had two catches for 29 yards and a score.
The Gamecock defense turned in another impressive performances, holding the Tigers to 153 yards of offense and tallying five sacks. Senior Spur Antonio Allen led the charge with seven tackles, while senior defensive end Melvin Ingram recorded five tackles and two sacks. Junior DeVonte Holloman produced five stops and had one interception in the win.
"I think it's one of the best," Spurrier said of the defense's performance. "A team with as high potent an offense as Clemson has or used to have – they struggled the last two games, but they were impressive early in the season – it was very good to see our guys have another excellent defensive game."
The Gamecocks made a statement early, scoring on their first two drives. Senior Jay Wooten drilled a 47-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 48-yard drive to begin the game, giving South Carolina a 3-0 lead at the 10:23 mark of the first quarter.
After the defense forced the first of five three and outs on the night on the next possession, Shaw led the Gamecocks on a 75-yard scoring drive. He completed a 49-yard touchdown strike to Ellington to give South Carolina a 10-0 lead with 6:36 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers began to find a rhythm in the second quarter as they marched down the field for a 12-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd found tight end Dwayne Allen for a 9-yard touchdown pass to end the drive and trim the Gamecocks' lead to 10-7.
Clemson took advantage of a special teams miscue by the Gamecocks to pull even. Clemson's Drew Traylor blocked a Joey Scribner-Howard punt and teammate Chad Diehl recovered the ball at the Carolina 26. The Tigers settled for a 32-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro to knot the game at 10-10 with 6:14 left in the half.
But Shaw used his legs to give South Carolina a 17-10 lead heading into the locker room as he finished off a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:55 left in the half.
The Gamecocks dominated the second half defensively, allowing just three points and 72 yards of offense, and the offense took care of the rest. Shaw connected with Anderson for a career-long 55-yard pass to the Clemson 5 on Carolina's first possession of the half. Two plays later, Shaw found Anderson wide open in the corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass, giving the Gamecocks a 24-10 lead with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
"Buster (Rory Anderson) quietly makes big play after big play," Spurrier said. "We got him wide open on that drag route. Probably should have tried it a few more times. He shook the tackle and got it down there. On third down, we've been practicing that all year. The guy came clean, Connor threw a pump fake, ducked him and hit a touchdown."
Clemson pulled to within 24-13 with a 40-yard field goal by Catanzaro early in the final stanza, but South Carolina put the game away with a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives.
Wooten nailed a 37-yard field goal to cap the first drive and give the Gamecocks a 27-13 cushion with 6:26 remaining.
Holloman set up the final score by intercepting a Boyd pass and returning it 29 yards to the Tiger 19 less than a minute later. Shaw then connected with Jeffery for an 18-yard touchdown pass at the 5:20 mark to put the game out of reach.
Boyd completed just 11-of-29 passes for 83 yards and had one touchdown and one interception for the Tigers. Junior Andre Ellington added 66 yards rushing on 13 carries. Safety Rashard Hall led Clemson's defensive effort with a game-high 12 tackles.
CLICK HERE for game highlights.