By Rixon Lane
South Carolina had only beaten Clemson four consecutive years once in program history.
The Gamecocks had never won 10+ games in back-to-back seasons.
Heading into the 2012 matchup with the Tigers, South Carolina had a chance to change both of those facts.
The Gamecocks appeared to be playing from behind before the game even kicked off. Starting quarterback Connor Shaw, hobbled by a sprained left foot, was unable to go and Dylan Thompson was penciled in for his second career start.
Clemson took the lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard run from quarterback Tajh Boyd, capping a 16-play, 85-yard drive for the Tigers. Thompson responded by completing his next four passes, driving the Gamecocks for a tying touchdown, and finishing the drive with a 13-yard strike to Bruce Ellington.
Clemson's big-play offense answered quickly. Just 24 seconds later, Boyd connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 43-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead.
Neither team could find the end zone in the second quarter. South Carolina held Clemson's potent offense to just 74 yards and the only scoring came courtesy of a 29-yard field goal by Adam Yates. The Tigers appeared to be driving for a score late in the half, but Boyd was hit while throwing and DeVonte Holloman came up with his third career interception against the Tigers, holding Clemson's lead at 14-10.
The second half belonged to the Gamecocks. South Carolina found the end zone on its opening drive of the half, as Thompson took the Gamecocks 85 yards in 10 plays. Ace Sanders, who led all receivers with 119 yards on just six catches, eluded a trio of Clemson defenders en route to a 34-yard touchdown to give South Carolina its first lead.
Both squads traded field goals to end the quarter and South Carolina took a 20-17 lead into the final 15 minutes.
After a Thompson interception, the Tigers took over at their own 20 with over 13 minutes remaining and plenty of time to re-take the lead. However, the Gamecock defense began to flex its muscles, literally.
Swearinger's penalty moved Clemson to midfield, but Brison Williams ended the Tiger threat three plays later.
With the ball and a three-point lead, the Gamecock offense drained over five and a half minutes off the clock. However, facing a 3rd-and-19 from the Clemson 26, it appeared as though South Carolina would have to settle for another field goal and a one-score game.
From there, the Gamecock offense could not punch the ball in on the ground and Thompson was called on to put the game away.
With the Tigers trailing by two scores and with less than five minutes to play, the Gamecock defensive line unloaded. Jadeveon Clowney recorded two of his school-record and Memorial Stadium-record 4.5 sacks on Clemson's final two possessions. Clowney also passed Andrew Provence and Melvin Ingram for South Carolina's single-season sack record.
The victory made Steve Spurrier the all-time winningest coach in Gamecock football history.