Clowney’s big-plays ice Gamecocks win over Vols

Ken Cross

October 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm.

Jadeveon Clowney (7) was a big reason why South Carolina held on to beat Tennessee. (Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE)

Playmakers have to step up and make the key plays at the key time.  Saturday afternoon in Columbia, the South Carolina Gamecocks were looking for that scenario and finally embraced it against pesky Tennessee.

Leading 38-35 late in the game, USC had struggled with the Volunteers offense all afternoon as Justin Hunter, Zach Rogers, and Vincent Dallas had gotten free repeatedly with quarterback Tyler Bray connecting on 17 of his 28 completions to the trio.

The Volunteers had just moved into the red zone with just under two minutes to go in the game and they were indeed playing like this might be Derek Dooley’s last game as their coach. First-and-ten on the  South Carolina19 saw Bray drop back and survey the field – briefly. He didn’t have time to turn his head back to the left as Jadaveon Clowney nailed him from the blind side, separating him from the football.  Linebacker Shaq Roland recovered and South Carolina survived a scare, staving off a third loss in a row.

“Jadeveon wins the game for us,” said Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier.  “Coach Ward and I were on the same page in the fourth quarter. We said let him rush from the inside where they did not block for him. We thought Tennessee might move that back inside but they didn’t.”

Clowney’s game-saving play came off the right end on the outside.  Apparently, he had influenced Tennessee into finally focusing on him in the middle, so Ward decided to leave him on the outside and of course, one tackle, man-on-man, is going to have trouble with the player that many feel is the best defensive player in all of college football.