Thompson got the call for the Gamecocks (10-2) because starter Connor Shaw sprained his left foot last week against Wofford. And the Gamecocks sophomore made the most of it with TD passes of 13 and 6 yards to Bruce Ellington and 34 yards to Ace Sanders.
The Tigers (10-2) were grounded by Clowney, the Gamecocks star defensive end who set his school’s single season-record with 13 sacks. Spurrier won his 65th game in eight seasons, surpassing Rex Enright for most victories by a South Carolina coach. The Gamecocks finished with 10 victories for a second consecutive season, a first in program history.
Clemson’s offense and quarterback Tajh Boyd never got on track. The Tigers came leading the Atlantic Coast Conference and were sixth in the country with 535 yards a game. They finished with 328 yards in this one, 165 over the final three quarters.
Boyd was 11 of 24 for 183 yards and two crushing interceptions, the last one that set up Thompson’s clinching TD throw to Ellington with 4:17 to.
When it was over, South Carolina’s players started their fans in the chant, “Four In A Row! Four In A Row!”
It’s been 58 years since the Gamecocks could say that, their one-and-only four-game series win streak occurring from 1951-54.
South Carolina’s win made the Southeastern Conference 4-0 against ACC opponents Saturday. Clemson’s oldest players came into their Senior Day ceremonies hoping to avoid an 0-4 mark against their rivals. the Tigers looked like they got a break before the game when Spurrier said Thompson would start for Shaw, who riddled Clemson for 317 yards in last season’s 34-13 victory.
Shaw sprained his left foot in the win over Wofford last week and barely practiced during the week. Shaw came out in full uniform and helmet during warmups and appeared to move easily. Still, this was Thompson’s start and he kept the Gamecocks in it.
Thompson answered Clemson’s 16-play, 85-yard touchdown drive with a solid showing of his own on South Carolina’s following series. He went 4-for-4 for 56 yards, including a 13-yard TD pass to Bruce Ellington.