Nov. 18, 2000
No. 16 Clemson 16, No. 25 South Carolina 14
By PETE IACOBELLI AP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. — Aaron Hunt’s third field goal, a 25-yarder with seven seconds left, lifted No. 16 Clemson to a 16-14 victory over No. 25 South Carolina on Saturday in an incredible finish to one of college football’s oldest rivalries.
The Tigers (9-2) looked dead after Thomas Hill, a tight end who had no catches this season, fell on Derek Watson’s fumble in the end zone with 59 seconds to go for a 14-13 lead.
But Clemson’s Woody Dantzler found Rod Gardner for a 50-yard reception to South Carolina’s 8 with 10 seconds remaining and Hunt, not the most accurate kicker this season at 5-of-10 coming in, struck it through to send Death Valley into a frenzy.
It was Clemson’s fourth straight win in the series, which dates to 1909.
Watson’s kickoff return didn’t make it past the 40 and Clemson had its fourth straight victory in the series.
The Gamecocks (7-4) had seeming pulled off the unthinkable – going from a 21-game losing streak the past two seasons to a berth in the high-tier Citrus or Outback bowls.
But the Gamecocks’ defense, which had held Clemson to 24-points below its season average, allowed the Tigers and Dantzler to go 60 yards in less than a minute for the victory.
South Carolina, which has lost three straight, will most likely head to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta or the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Clemson accepted a bid to the Gator Bowl earlier this week. It is awaiting its opponent, which bowl officials say is probably Virginia Tech or Notre Dame.
But bowls were the farthest things from Clemson or South Carolina after this one.
The Tigers jumped to the sky when Hunt’s kick sailed through. Then rushed the field once the kickoff return rolled out of bounds as Watson tried a lateral.
South Carolina coach Lou Holtz couldn’t get through the mob at midfield to talk with his current chief rival, Tommy Bowden, and led the Gamecocks out of Death Valley.
Hunt had the go-ahead field goal right before halftime as Clemson led 10-7. Gardner was instrumental in that one, too, making a one-handed, 40-yard catch to the Gamecocks’ 4. Three plays later, Hunt converted a 22-yarder.
Hunt made a 31-yard field goal with 14:05 to go to make it 13-7 before the craziness began.
South Carolina, which came in averaging 24 points, couldn’t get much going. Quarterback Phil Petty, who had six interceptions all year, threw three in third quarter to kill off drives in Clemson territory.
The Gamecocks only touchdown the first 59 minutes was a 61-yard burst by Watson, who finished with 150 yards to become only the third rusher at South Carolina to reach 1,000 yards since George Rogers’ Heisman Trophy season of 1980.
Gardner finished with four catches for 107 yards for Clemson.
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