South Carolina has one game to play, but here’s a look at the plays that made the 2013 regular season successful.
1. FOURTH AND GOLDEN
The Gamecocks had come all the way back against Missouri, forcing overtime, but were now in serious trouble. Connor Shaw had been dropped for a loss on first-and-goal from the 9 and had thrown two consecutive incompletions.
Fourth down and goal, 15 yards away. Don’t get it, and it becomes a game that USC was so close to winning.
No timeout. Shaw stood in the shotgun, patting the air with both hands as the crowd screamed its loudest. The snap rifled into his hands as he saw Ellington breaking parallel to the goal line.
Ellington, who won the Outback Bowl with a final-seconds grab, had a step on Ian Simon in the right front corner of the end zone. Shaw put every bit of touch he’d ever learned into a strong spiral.
Ellington leaped, and Simon was as cooked as the morning bacon. The ball nestled into his hands as he landed with the black paint of Mizzou’s end zone beneath him.
2. SENIOR MOMENT
Skyler Mornhinweg ran from pressure, rolling right, and saw Latroy Pittman down the sideline. He’d been good all game, and if he could be great on this one throw
Mornhinweg learned the hard way that it’s tough to throw an on-target pass while running, and elevating off the back foot. His pass was 5 yards short, and Jimmy Legree was waiting to wrap his hands around it, and put the win on ice.
The onside kick bounded to Ellington, he snatched it and galloped 31 yards to the UCF 15. USC called for the victory formation.
4. GET LOOSE
Shaw faced fourth-and-4 from Missouri’s 46. There were 15 minutes to play, but Shaw and everybody knew that if the Gamecocks didn’t get something going soon, a 17-0 deficit was going to be too much to overcome.
One down from starting the path to extinction, Shaw locked onto his go-to target, the man with magnet hands. Shaw fired, Ellington caught and had a first down.
That drive became a touchdown to start the comeback.
5. LITTLE BRO
The bullet shot toward Shamier Jeffery, a player known more for his older brother than what he’s done for himself, but he didn’t back down. Jeffery caught it, and the Gamecocks ran out the clock.
6. SMALL FRY
It was 40 yards, the same distance he’d missed from in the first quarter. If USC didn’t score, Mizzou could kick a field goal and win.
Fry knocked it through with room to spare.
7. JUMP, JUMP!
Brandon Wilds curled around the line as Cooper ran right a few steps. Seeing the defensive backs converge, Cooper hopped and tossed a floater to Wilds. Wilds gathered it in and raced past the suckered Tigers for the game-over touchdown.
On third-and-goal, Jadeveon Clowney flushed Maty Mauk from the pocket, and Mauk ran left. Seeing nothing but a wall of white, Mauk stepped out-of-bounds before Legree and/or Brison Williams could de-cleat him.
The Tigers had to settle for a field goal to force a third overtime, a 24-yarder.
9. HE CAN SCOOT
USC faced a first-and-15 on its 5. Mike Davis was on the sideline, Brandon Wilds was ailing, Connor Shaw was gimpy.
Shon Carson was healthy.
A routine draw play revealed a wide-open hole and Carson burst through it. His 58-yard run led to a go-ahead field goal, then another field goal, as USC survived.
10. SWEET JIMMY
Figuring that star receiver Jordan Matthews would draw the most coverage, Austyn Carta-Samuels called for a quick-strike corner route for freshman Jordan Cunningham. He took one step and fired, only to watch as Legree snagged the pass in the end zone.
USC iced the game with a 17-play drive.