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Clemson blanks South Carolina for 7th straight win in Palmetto Bowl

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney congratulates players after a score during the first half of...
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney congratulates players after a score during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)(Sean Rayford | AP)
Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 10:38 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Saturday night, Dabo Swinney makes rivalry history leading the Clemson Tigers past the South Carolina Gamecocks, 30-0. Swinney becomes the first coach to capture seven consecutive victories in the Palmetto Bowl.

It marks the first shutout in the Palmetto Bowl since 1989, when the Tigers won 45-0.

The Tigers set the tone in the trenches on the opening drive. Clemson rushes for 64 yards on four carries on their first possession. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei had a critical 22-yard scramble to move the chains. The run was followed by freshman tailback Will Shipley taking advantage of a huge rushing lane to scamper 29 yards for the first score of the Palmetto Bowl.

South Carolina’s first offensive possession was far from picture-perfect. The Gamecocks went three-and-out. And, twice in four plays, South Carolina had personnel issues, with too many players on the field one time, not enough the second.

Carolina’s defense denied a Clemson deep shot on the ensuing drive. Uiagalelei geared up to take a shot toward the endzone, but the Gamecocks Cam Smith swooped in for the interception, his third in the last four games.

The Tigers’ defense remained fierce throughout the first quarter. Andrew Booth Jr. picked off Jason Brown’s pass at Carolina’s 13-yard line on the Gamecocks third drive. The interception resulted in a B.T. Potter chip shot field goal to give Clemson a 10-0 lead with 2:40 to play in the first.

Clemson continued to take advantage as the Gamecock offense failed to convert one first down on their first four drives. The Tigers’ fifth drive ends in the house. Kobe Pace ripped off a 34-yard run on third down for the touchdown. Clemson would go up 17-0 with 12:10 left to play in the second quarter.

Booth collected his second interception late in the first half with the Gamecocks trying to mount a drive. With Carolina on its 48-yard line, Brown rolled to his right and launched it into double coverage for Josh Vann in the endzone. It did not appear Vann knew where the ball was tracking. Booth did, denying the Gamecocks points with under four minutes to go in the half.

Clemson carried a 17-0 lead to the locker room. The Gamecocks offense held in check the first 30 minutes, gaining a mere 75 total yards.

The Gamecock offense picked up where they left off in the first half. And that would be bad news. Clemson forced its sixth three-and-out in eight Carolina drives.

With Carolina lost on offense, Clemson drives 34 yards down the field to set up Potter. The Tigers kicker connected on a field goal from 47 yards with 9:05 left in the third to extend Clemson’s advantage, 20-0.

The Gamecock defense created an opportunity late in the third. With Clemson starting a drive pinned at their one-yard line, Carolina forced its second three-and-out of the game. And Clemson’s Will Spiers punt from the endzone traveled a mere 32 yards to the Tigers’ 37-yard line. By far South Carolina’s best starting field position of the game.

Clemson’s defense was relentless, though. On the next drive, the Gamecock offense went backward four yards on the first three plays. It forced a 4th and 14. The Gamecocks would go for it from Clemson’s 41-yard line. Tigers defensive end Myles Murphy pressured Brown, who then had to get rid of the ball too quickly as he threw it into the ground for an incomplete pass.

The Tigers entered the fourth quarter in complete control leading by 20—Clemson outgaining the Gamecocks, 332 yards to 103 yards.

South Carolina tried to spark the final quarter by bringing quarterback Zeb Noland off the bench. And, it nearly worked. He engineered a 12-play drive that lasted almost seven minutes. But it did not result in points. On a 4th down and five on Clemson’s 33, the Tigers KJ Henery applied serious heat on Noland. He knocked the ball out of his hand for a sack-fumble to end the drive.

The Tigers delivered the final knockout punch with 2:30 remaining when Phil Mafah rumbled into the endzone for a rushing score. The touchdown made it 30-0 Clemson.

Shipley finished his first Palmetto Bowl with 128 yards rushing for one score. Pace added 58 yards on the ground and score.

Carolina’s offense finished with a mere 206 total yards. Noland completes 11 of his 22 passes for 96 yards.

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