From Clemson’s side: Tigers fall to Gamecocks in Death Valley

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson fell at home in its regular-season finale to South Carolina, 31-30, at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The loss snapped the Tigers’ 40-game home winning streak, which dated to 2016. Clemson fell to 10-2 on the season, while South Carolina improved to 8-4. 

With the regular season now complete, Atlantic Division champion Clemson will face Coastal Division champion North Carolina in the 2022 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, Dec. 3. That game is slated for an 8 p.m. kickoff on ABC. 

Clemson ran for 237 yards but committed three turnovers, including one with 2:09 to play, in the loss. With 132 rushing yards on 15 carries on Saturday, running back Will Shipley reached 1,000 rushing yards on the season to record the 23rd 1,000-yard rushing season in school history. 

Defensively, Clemson had 11 tackles for loss and three sacks and only 54 yards rushing on 31 carries, but allowed 360 yards through the air. K.J. Henry finished with 11 total tackles to lead the Tigers, while Jeremiah Trotter Jr. finished with eight tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception return for a touchdown. 

Clemson’s defense got the Tigers on the board first on the first play of the Gamecocks’ second possession. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. read Spencer Rattler’s eyes as he dropped back into coverage, intercepted his pass and returned it 35 yards for a pick six. It was Clemson’s first interception for a touchdown since Mario Goodrich took one back against Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl in the 2021 season. 

Shipley then got the momentum going on offense with a 47-yard gain to the South Carolina 13-yard line. DJ Uiagalelei would finish the job with a nine-yard rushing touchdown, putting Clemson up 14-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter. The Tigers went 90 yards on the drive, with 83 of those on the ground. 

At the beginning of the second quarter, a four-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal got South Carolina on the board and made the score 14-7. After the ensuing drive stalled, Aidan Swanson pinned the Gamecocks on the two-yard line with a 52-yard punt, and Ruke Orhorhoro forced Rattler into intentional grounding, resulting in a safety and a 16-7 Clemson lead. 

A fumble on Clemson’s kick return gave South Carolina the ball on Clemson’s 37-yard line, which then led to another touchdown for the Gamecocks, tightening Clemson’s lead to 16-14 with 8:24 left in the first half. 

The Tigers responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 59-yard catch-and-run to Beaux Collins and capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Williams. Clemson’s defense then came up with a big red zone stop as R.J. Mickens intercepted Rattler’s pass in the endzone, allowing Clemson to keep their 23-14 lead going into halftime. 

South Carolina opened the scoring in the second half with a touchdown on their first possession. Clemson would soon follow and make the score 30-21 after a running back dominating drive where Phil Mafah ran for 18 yards, Kobe Pace ran for eight yards, and Shipley had a ten-yard reception and an 11-yard rushing touchdown. 

The Gamecocks responded quickly as Rattler threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to Antwane Wells Jr. After a scoreless Clemson drive, South Carolina took the lead for the first time with a 35-yard field goal, making the score 31-30 with 10:54 left in the game. 

Clemson’s defense stepped up big, coming up with two strong back-to-back three-and-out stops. However, a fumble on Clemson’s punt return gave South Carolina the ball back with 2:05 left to play and a first down conversion on 3rd-and-4 and sealed the 31-30 victory for the Gamecocks.

Categories: Clemson, Local Sports, Sports