Jolly and Defense Come Through


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON -- Leave it to Terry Jolly to be the one player on Clemson's defense to take partial credit for Aaron Hunt's game winning kick Saturday night against South Carolina.

"I talked to him," said Jolly. "I said, 'Aaron, the game is on the line. You all right?' He was like all relaxed. He was cool and relaxed."

Jolly said he had confidence in Hunt. "You know, I had seen him do it in practice. I had confidence that he could kick a fifty-yarder."

Once Jolly talked to Hunt on the sideline, he knew the monkey was off the back of the defense. The defense would have shouldered a loss had Hunt missed the kick. No one would have thought twice about that. You don't give up a touchdown drive in the final minutes and then blame things on the offense.

Hunt went in and hit the game-winning 25-yarder to make USC's final touchdown just a footnote to this game.

Clemson's defense won't have to shoulder any blame that would have been distributed otherwise. Instead, it can look at the fact that it have up just two touchdowns, one on a 61-yard run by Derrick Watson.

Other than that run, Watson was held in check. He ended up with 150 yards rushing and in the second half, when Clemson's offense needed help, he was held to just nine yards on his first nine carries. Clemson's offense went four plays and out in its first three drives of the half. The defense responded with interceptions on USC's first two drives of the half and then forced the Gamecocks to punt on their fourth drive.

On the fourth drive, Jolly made the play he'll talk about for years. He intercepted a pass after Terry Bryant tipped it.

"I saw (USC defensive lineman) Cleveland Pinckney make an interception," he said. "I said 'I've got to get one, too.'"

South Carolina drove the ball to the Clemson 3-yard line, where it had first-and-goal on its next drive. Just over five minutes remained and South Carolina trailed by six. USC runningback Andrew Pinnock was tackled for a 1-yard loss on consecutive plays. On third down, Phil Petty threw to Brian Scott in the right corner of the end zone. Clemson defensive back Charles Hafley broke up the pass.

On fourth down USC receiver Jermale Kelly was called for offensive pass interference in the end zone and it appeared that the defense had effectively won the game.

Clemson's offense stalled when it got the ball and had to punt. South Carolina moved the ball 68 yards in seven plays to score and take a 14-13 lead.

"I had faith in the offense," said Jolly. "I always have faith in the offense, but this time I really, really, really had faith."

Most of the players on Clemson's sideline held hands while Hunt attempted the kick. "I wasn't holding no hands," Jolly said.

Jolly already had a pretty good idea what was going to happen.

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