Davis, Tigers Crush Gamecocks, 31-14


by - Senior Writer -
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C.J. Spiller and James Davis rushed for 179 yards against the Gamecocks.

CLEMSON - Senior running back James Davis stood near the goal line, blowing exaggerated kisses to the crowd as the mist fell down around him, but all he said he felt was the appreciation coming down as the fans chanted his name as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Davis rushed 24 times for 94 yards and scored three touchdowns, ending his final game at Death Valley with a win as the Tigers manhandled the rival South Carolina Gamecoks 31-14, giving interim head coach Dabo Swinney a shot at the permanent job and making the Tigers bowl eligible.

"That felt good today," Davis of the end of the game. "They've (Clemson fans) been there for me, and I just wanted to thank them and let them know how much I love them. They have been there for me, you know? It rained, and it was cold, and they showed up, and they didn't care and I just wanted to thank them and love them for showing up for this game today against the Gamecocks."

The win makes the Tigers bowl eligible, probably either the Champs Sports Bowl or the Gator Bowl, seemingly entrenching Swinney right now as the front runner for the head coaching job next season, especially after the crowd chanted his name at the end of the game.

"We've won four of these last five games, and I commend these guys for their leadership and heart during these last few games," Swinney said. "We now just have to wait on our fate for a bowl game. I also want to thank our fans for being here with us through the good times and the bad, especially sitting through the nasty weather today."

Clemson's first possession ended on a C.J. Spiller fumble, and the ensuing possession for the Gamecocks ended when Chris Chancellor intercepted a Chris Smelley pass. Clemson took over on their 15-yard line, converted two big third downs, then Spiller atoned for his earlier miscue when he broke off a 39-yard run to the Carolina one-yard line. One play later, James Davis pounded it into the endzone for the touchdown and a 7-0 Clemson lead.

South Carolina's second possession ended when freshman Jamie Harper blocked the Gamecock punt, and Clemson took over the Carolina 29-yard line. Clemson had a first and goal at the four-yard line, but settled for a Mark Buckholz 22-yard field goal and 10-0 Clemson lead with forty seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Chris Clemons intercepted a Smelley pass midway through the second quarter, with Clemson taking over at midfield. On the second \play from scrimmage, Harper was under pressure from the South Carolina defense, and as he down hit a wide open Jacoby Ford at the 32-yard line. Ford sprinted down the left sideline, picked up a block from Xavier Dye at the six-yard line and scored for a 17-0 Tiger lead, with 8:33 remaining in the first half.

Swinney said he was pleased to see that the Tigers appeared to be the more physical team throughout the contest.

"The kids got out there today for four quarters, and played with mental and physical toughness," Swinney said. "When you can run the football and stop the run, then you can win championships. The offensive line did a tremendous job. They have grown as a unit, and worked hard for the team."

On the next Gamecock possession, Carolina drove again into Clemson territory, but on third-and-five at the Clemson 40, Smelley once again was picked off, this time by safety Michael Hamlin, who returned the interception 24 yards, setting up a 20-yard run by Davis. Davis sprinted through the middle, found a block by Tyler Grisham at the five-yard line, and went into the end zone for a 24-0 Clemson lead with 4:31 remaining in the half.

Carolina drove down at the end of the half, and Smelley hit fullback Patrick DiMarco on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining, trimming Clemson's advantage to 24-7.

Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff the Clemson 39-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, Harper hit Aaron Kelly for a 42-yard gain to the Carolina 19-yard line, leaving 10 seconds on the clock. The Tigers called their second timeout of the half, tried a pass to Ford in the end zone that was incomplete, and Buckholz missed a 36-yarder with one second remaining, ending the first half fireworks.

The Gamecocks took the opening possession of the second half, and jumped right back into the fray when Smelley hit tight end Weslye Saunders on a 16-yard post pass for a touchdown, and the once seemingly insurmountable 24-point Tiger lead was down to just 10 at 24-14.

The teams traded punts, including one after the Tigers appeared to get a first down on a Cullen Harper slide, but the play was overturned after a review and the Tigers punted. The Gamecocks returned the favor, and Spiller returned the punt 19 yards to the Gamecock 44-yard line.

Once again, it was Davis to the rescue with his hard running, getting the Tigers inside the Carolina five-yard line, and scoring when he ran over South Carolina cornerback Carlos Thomas on a two-yard run, extending the Tigers to 31-14 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

The Gamecocks' last drive of the game ended with Chancellor intercepting Smelley again, this time with 4:25 remaining, to effectively seal the win.

Safety Michael Hamlin said seeing the interception was the culmination of a satisfying afternoon.

"That play happened in slow motion," Hamlin said. "I thought he was going to try and throw a post or something, but he kind of threw it out to the corner. All I had to do was turn around and throw my hands when I saw we had it, because I knew that would probably be my last time out on that field, and I just wanted to enjoy it."

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said his Gamecocks were simply beat by a better team on Saturday.

"Clemson was the better team today, and they had better coaches and players," Spurrier said. "The team we played today is an ACC Championship team. They thoroughly beat us. They have a great team, and are playing better ball at the end of the year than we are."

Spurrier also said he never really considered removing Smelley, despite the turnovers.

"I planned to play one quarterback the entire game," he said. "I was determined to stick with Smelley. Stephen (Garcia) had been sick this week, but if we need to make another quarterback change, I will. I'm tired of changing quarterbacks in the game."

Swinney said he will meet with Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips on Sunday, probably in the early afternoon after church, and will make his case for being head coach. After the meeting, he said he should have a better idea as to his job status, but expects to coach the Tigers in the bowl game regardless fo the decision.


NOTES AND THOUGHTS FROM THE GAME:



*James Davis' three touchdown runs gave him 49 in his Clemson career, including 47 on the ground. He is now just one touchdown behind the career record of 50, held by Travis Zachery. "I had a dream last night that I was going to score three touchdowns," Davis said. "Everybody was talking all week about getting me four touchdowns, and I thought it would be hard because South Carolina has a tough defense. But I went to sleep last night and dreamed that I scored three or four touchdowns. Our gameplan was to come in today and run the ball, and the offensive line came in and knocked those guys off the ball. It was a great feeling."

*Jamie Harper's punt block in the first quarter was the first punt block of the season for the Tigers.

*The 54-yard punt by Jimmy Maners that got Clemson out of a deep, second quarter hole was his longest of the season. His previous high was 53 yards.

*Jacoby Ford's 50-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his sixth scoring play of over 50 yards in his career. It was also the second he has had against South Carolina. He had a 76-yard touchdown reception two years ago against the Gamecocks in Death Valley.

*Michael Hamlin's second quarter interception was the 14th of his career, leaving him alone in third place on the Clemson list. The turnover was also the 18th of his career, good for second place in Clemson history.

*Crezdon Butler's third quarter sack of Chris Smelley was the first of his career.

*Twice during the game, Clemson called timeouts on the first play of a series. That should never happen, not to good teams anyway.

*Cullen Harper's 15-yard completion to Tyler Grisham early in the fourth quarter was the 500th of his career.



Date: Nov 29, 2008  Site: Clemson, SC           Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Attendance: 81500

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
South Carolina......  0  7  7  0  - 14
Clemson............. 10 14  7  0  - 31



Scoring Summary:
1st 04:14 CU - James Davis 1 yd run (Mark Buchholz kick)
                                                   10 plays, 85 yards, TOP 4:47, SC 0 - CU 7
    00:40 CU - Mark Buchholz 22 yd field goal
                                                   8 plays, 24 yards, TOP 2:39, SC 0 - CU 10
2nd 08:33 CU - Jacoby Ford 50 yd pass from Cullen Harper (Mark Buchholz kick)
                                                   2 plays, 51 yards, TOP 0:36, SC 0 - CU 17
    04:31 CU - James Davis 20 yd run (Mark Buchholz kick)
                                                   3 plays, 41 yards, TOP 1:11, SC 0 - CU 24
    00:31 SC - Patrick DiMarco 16 yd pass from Chris Smelley (Ryan Succop kick)
                                                   4 plays, 33 yards, TOP 1:32, SC 7 - CU 24
3rd 11:32 SC - Weslye Saunders 23 yd pass from Chris Smelley (Ryan Succop kick)
                                                  8 plays, 69 yards, TOP 3:23, SC 14 - CU 24
    03:38 CU - James Davis 2 yd run (Mark Buchholz kick)
                                                 11 plays, 44 yards, TOP 5:24, SC 14 - CU 31



Kickoff time: 12:02 PM  End of Game: 3:17 PM   Total elapsed time: 3:15
Officials: Referee: Marc Curles; Umpire: Ronnie Jones; Linesman: Randall Kizer;
Line judge: Mickey Haddock; Back judge: Michael Watson; Field judge: Greg Thomas;
Side judge: M. Williams;
Temperature: 50 deg    Wind: Calm      Weather: Cloudy skies

Team Statistics 

                                     SC       CU

FIRST DOWNS...................       20       19
  Rushing.....................        6        8
  Passing.....................       13       10
  Penalty.....................        1        1
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       92      184
  Rushing Attempts............       26       47
  Average Per Rush............      3.5      3.9
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        0        3
  Yards Gained Rushing........      112      210
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       20       26
NET YARDS PASSING.............      212      199
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  22-47-4  12-17-0
  Average Per Attempt.........      4.5     11.7
  Average Per Completion......      9.6     16.6
  Passing Touchdowns..........        2        1
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      304      383
  Total offense plays.........       73       64
  Average Gain Per Play.......      4.2      6.0
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      2-0      2-2
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     3-26     5-41
PUNTS-YARDS...................    4-120    3-140
  Average Yards Per Punt......     30.0     46.7
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     24.5     42.3
  Inside 20...................        1        1
  50+ Yards...................        0        1
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
  Fair catch..................        1        1
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    3-200    6-384
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     66.7     64.0
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     39.0     45.0
  Touchbacks..................        0        1
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.   1-13-0   2-22-0
  Average Per Return..........     13.0     11.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD   5-94-0   3-83-0
  Average Per Return..........     18.8     27.7
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..    0-0-0   4-35-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    27:13    32:47
  1st Quarter.................     5:31     9:29
  2nd Quarter.................    10:20     4:40
  3rd Quarter.................     7:49     7:11
  4th Quarter.................     3:33    11:27
Third-Down Conversions........  8 of 17  8 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 2   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      1-2      4-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     4-20     1-18
PAT Kicks.....................      2-2      4-4
Field Goals...................      0-0      1-3

Individual Statistics 

South Carolina

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
Mike Davis           17   77    1   76  0 13  4.5
Brian Maddox          4   25    0   25  0 13  6.2
TEAM                  1    0    1   -1  0  0 -1.0
Chris Smelley         4   10   18   -8  0  5 -2.0
Totals...            26  112   20   92  0 13  3.5

Passing              Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Chris Smelley          47-22-4   212  2   23    1
Totals...              47-22-4   212  2   23    1

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Kenny McKinley          7   56    0   22
Weslye Saunders         4   58    1   23
Jason Barnes            3   46    0   20
Brian Maddox            2   11    0    9
Mike Davis              2    9    0    5
Patrick DiMarco         1   16    1   16
Freddie Brown           1    9    0    9
Joe Hills               1    5    0    5
Jared Cook              1    2    0    2
Totals...              22  212    2   23

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Spencer Lanning         3  120  40.0   47    1    0
TEAM                    1    0   0.0    0    0    0
Totals...               4  120  30.0   47    1    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
Chris Culliver        1  13 13  5  94 25  0   0  0
Totals...             1  13 13  5  94 25  0   0  0

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Ryan Succop        3  200   0   0  66.7



Clemson

Rushing              No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
-------------------------------------------------
James Davis          24   94    3   91  3 20  3.8
C.J. Spiller         16   89    1   88  0 39  5.5
Jacoby Ford           1   21    0   21  0 21 21.0
TEAM                  1    0    2   -2  0  0 -2.0
Cullen Harper         5    6   20  -14  0  6 -2.8
Totals...            47  210   26  184  3 39  3.9

Passing              Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
-------------------------------------------------
Cullen Harper          17-12-0   199  1   50    4
Totals...              17-12-0   199  1   50    4

Receiving             No.  Yds   TD Long
----------------------------------------
Aaron Kelly             4   76    0   42
C.J. Spiller            3   35    0   28
Tyler Grisham           2   21    0   15
James Davis             2   17    0   11
Jacoby Ford             1   50    1   50
Totals...              12  199    1   50

Punting               No.  Yds   Avg Long In20   TB
---------------------------------------------------
Jimmy Maners            3  140  46.7   54    1    0
Totals...               3  140  46.7   54    1    0

                       Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns          No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
--------------------------------------------------
C.J. Spiller          1  19 19  2  57 34  0   0  0
Jacoby Ford           0   0  0  1  26 26  0   0  0
Jamie Harper          1   3  0  0   0  0  0   0  0
Chris Clemons         0   0  0  0   0  0  1  11 11
Michael Hamlin        0   0  0  0   0  0  1  24 24
Chris Chancellor      0   0  0  0   0  0  2   0  0
Totals...             2  22 19  3  83 34  4  35 24

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Mark Buchholz        1st 00:40  22 yds - Good
Mark Buchholz        2nd 00:01  36 yds - Missed
Mark Buchholz        4th 07:52  41 yds - Missed

Kickoffs         No.  Yds  TB  OB   Avg
---------------------------------------
Buchholz, M        6  384   1   0  64.0



FUMBLES: South Carolina-Mike Davis 1-0; Chris Smelley 1-0. 
Clemson-C.J. Spiller 1-1; Cullen Harper 1-1.

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