Nov. 20, 1999
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – New coaches and an exciting finish couldn’t change the same old story – Clemson is back in a bowl and South Carolina is left looking for answers.
Travis Zachery rushed for two touchdowns and Woody Dantzler threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Rod Gardner on 4th-and-10 with six minutes left Saturday as the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks 31-21.
South Carolina finished 0-11 under Lou Holtz and extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 21 games.
Both programs looked in shambles a year ago when they searched for new leadership. But it was Clemson’s Tommy Bowden who regrouped his team and qualified them for the postseason at 6-5, most likely the Peach Bowl after all the Atlantic Coast Conference tie-ins are sorted out.
South Carolina, which more than tripled its average of 6 points per game, wound up winless in its first season with college football’s master rebuilder. Holtz’s Gamecocks became the first Southeastern Conference team to finish 0-11 without forfeits.
The Gamecocks, who had scored only six touchdowns all year, got two rushing TDs from freshman runner Andrew Pinnock. His 14-yard burst with 11:29 to go brought South Carolina within a score of its first win in nearly two seasons.
Kenny Harney’s interception on the next series set South Carolina up on Clemson’s 22. But the Gamecocks had to settle for Steve Florio’s third field goal.
Faced with a fourth-down decision in a deafening Williams-Brice Stadium, Bowden called on the combination that’s worked so often this year. Gardner bolted down the left sideline and beat defender Arturo Freeman for the score and Clemson was back in a bowl for the first time in three seasons.
Gardner ended with single-season records of 72 catches and 1,009 yards, usually a nice career for a Clemson receiver.
The Tigers started sluggish, gaining just 41 yards in the first quarter and trailing 6-0. But Dantzler, subbing for injured starter Brandon Streeter, found his groove. He completed five passes for 50 yards on the Tigers’ first touchdown drive.
Zachery ended it with a 2-yard run.
Dantzler found Gardner, who broke Perry Tuttle’s 1980 season yardage mark of 915 yards, for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Zachery’s 4-yard TD run in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 24-12 lead.
South Carolina’s former coach, Clemson tight ends assistant Brad Scott, got an up-close look at this one as he returned to Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time since his firing nearly a year ago. Scott was carried onto the field after the game by tight ends Pat Cyrgalis.
One of the biggest questions here was if South Carolina’s offense, which had managed just six touchdowns all season, could hang with Clemson’s fast-paced attack, averaging more than four TDs a game.
The Gamecocks clicked better than they had all year, doubling their 6-point-a-game average in the first half. Florio’s field goals and Pinnock’s 4-yard touchdown run left them trailing 17-12 at halftime.
Clemson’s players honored teammate Javis Austin, who remains at Anderson Area Medical Center, with his No. 5 on the rear left of their helmets.
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