Topic: On This Date: 2007 (21)Clemson- 23 South Carolina- 21
Replies: 0  
[ Tiger Boards - Clemson Football ]
Start New Topic
Replies: 0  

On This Date: 2007 (21)Clemson- 23 South Carolina- 21

Posted: Nov 24, 2020, 5:38 PM

Columbia, SC

Buchholz hits FG with no time left to win it for Clemson

COLUMBIA -- Mark Buchholz, you are forgiven. Clemson’s junior place-kicker forever etched his name into the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry Saturday, booting a 35-yard field goal as time expired to lift the No. 21 Tigers to a 23-21 win.

Somewhat maligned for his shortcomings all year -- the soccer/football player missed four field goals in a 13-3 loss to Georgia Tech earlier in the season and had already missed two against the Gamecocks -- Buchholz became a hero as he won his first rivalry game in his first year of playing varsity football.

‘If they hadn’t driven down and given me a chance, you guys would be ripping me for missing two field goals,’ Buchholz said. ‘I just ran through the same motions, tried to stay relaxed, just like all the other kicks.

He’d already missed from 35 and 45 yards and the Tigers (9-3) knew all too well the result of last year. Then-kicker Jad Dean, after a frantic drive downfield against USC, missed a 39-yarder that would have tied the game and instead delivered the Gamecocks a 31-28 win, their first against Clemson in five years.

With USC bidding for its second straight win over Clemson for the first time since 1970, the Tigers stormed downfield in the final 2:09. The Gamecocks held a 21-20 lead and were aching to hold on, trying to break a four-game losing streak that was threatening their chances for a bowl game.

They’d already forced one punt but their next possession only earned one first down. The Gamecocks (6-6) handed off to senior tailback Cory Boyd five straight times, and although Boyd picked up 16 yards on his first touch, he only got 7 on his next three.
‘We were trying to milk the clock out and do what any other coach would do and the play didn’t get executed the way that we needed it to get executed and you see the results ... we had to punt,’ Boyd said.

Forced to kick, USC wrapped up C.J. Spiller at the Tigers’ 22-yard-line and went to work. The defense had given up chunks of yards -- James Davis had 122 on the ground and Spiller had 88 -- but wasn’t breaking completely, until Cullen Harper decided to exploit a huge advantage.

USC cornerback Addison Williams, a 5-foot-8 true freshman, was elevated to starter after Captain Munnerlyn sprained his foot two weeks ago. He was guarding 6-5 Aaron Kelly, a graceful gazelle who’s led Clemson’s pass-catching corps all year.

Kelly slowly warmed up during the game but on the final drive, took over. Harper nailed him in the middle of the field for a 26-yard gain but Harper was sacked on the next play, setting up a second-and-17 with 1:35 to play.

No problem. After a screen pass to Spiller lost a yard, Harper again turned to Kelly for a 14-yard strike.

Facing fourth down, Kelly caught a 12-yard slant and one play later, hauled in an 18-yard catch-and-run. Clemson, which had given away two scoring opportunities already, didn’t get cute this time -- Harper spiked the ball on first down, lined up behind the jumbo package for a short run to keep the ball in the middle of the field and summoned Buchholz with three seconds left.

The kick was right down the middle, sending hordes of orange-clad fans onto the field. USC’s garnet-and-black contingent, stunned after another win was abruptly snatched away, filed out in dejected silence.

‘We had our chances, and it didn’t work out,’ USC coach Steve Spurrier said. ‘We just didn’t make enough plays to win the game.

Clemson was making the plays, turning opportunities from USC into early Christmas presents. The Tigers intercepted Blake Mitchell on the game’s first play; blocked two punts, including a first-quarter stuff that turned into La’Donte Harris’ touchdown recovery; and saw Phillip Merling strip USC’s Dion Lecorn of the ball after Lecorn had just caught a first down, which became Marcus Gilchrist’s fumble recovery.

But still, USC was in position to win. The Gamecocks took advantage of Buchholz’s second missed field goal, a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter that drifted wide of the target, and moved downfield.

Mitchell found Lecorn in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with 9:00 to go, giving USC its first lead of the game at 21-20. Clemson had plenty of time to score, but its first possession turned into a punt.

The defense stopped USC and Harper turned to Kelly, who had taken his own criticism after dropping a sure touchdown against Boston College last week. The catch, which could have lifted the Tigers into the ACC championship game, fell to the turf despite hitting Kelly’s hands.
The junior said he was still thinking about it but realized he’d just scribbled his name beside Buchholz’s in rivalry lore.

‘It doesn’t erase it, but it definitely eases it,’ he said.

The Tigers strutted out of Williams-Brice Stadium with another rivalry win, their 64th in the series, and eyed a high-level bowl game. Which one will be determined next week, but wherever Clemson ends up, the Tigers will have a shot at their first 10-win season since 1990.
‘With 10 wins, you’re looking at double-digit wins,’ said coach Tommy Bowden, who improved to 7-2 against USC. ‘That separates you in an elite group. We have the opportunity.

USC, after five straight losses to end the year following a 6-1, No. 6-ranked start, has to depend on some help to get to a bowl game. Either way, the Gamecocks were scratching their heads and wondering how such a promising season, one that had aspirations of an SEC championship, had tumbled so drastically.

‘I look back and I’m still trying to figure out where we went wrong,’ Boyd said. ‘That’s the most frustrating thing about it. We went out there and put it on the line and it just didn’t happen for us.’

2021 orange level memberbadge-donor-10yr.jpg

Best Is The Standard

Replies: 0  
[ Tiger Boards - Clemson Football ]
Start New Topic
482 people have read this post