South Carolina Football: Five Key Plays to the Gamecock Victory Over Alabama
The South Carolina Gamecocks shocked the world Saturday when they drubbed defending National Champion and No.1 Alabama 35-21.
The win marks the first win over a No.1 ranked team in football, and the third win this year by a men's team over a No.1 team in all Gamecock sports.
The win epitomized a "team win" as it was the combination of a lot of players and coaches having their greatest performance as a Gamecock.
What I'm going to lay out for you are the five plays that helped to seal the Gamecock's stunning victory over the Crimson Tide.
5. QB Stephen Garcia's first down scramble on fourth and two.
With 1:06 remaining in the first quarter, South Carolina faced a fourth and two from the Alabama 33-yard line. Instead of opting for a 50-yard field goal, Spurrier elected to go for it while clinging to a four point lead.
The Gamecocks ran the read option, Garcia opted to keep the ball, and was hit in the backfield. Garcia was able to avoid the tackle and bruised his way forward for a seven yard gain and a first down.
Carolina went on to complete the drive with a touchdown on the next play. Garcia hit WR Alshon Jefferey for a 26 yard TD pass to give the Gamecocks a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
This play was huge for momentum. A stop here would have given the Crimson Tide a relatively short field to work with and could have turned the tide in the game.
4. Sack and forced fumble of QB Greg McElroy
On Alabama's next offensive possession, Safety Antonio Allen blitzed Alabama QB Greg McElroy, hit him on from his blind side and jarred the ball from McElroy's grasp.
DT Travian Robertson was able to fall on the loose ball to give Carolina possession at the Alabama 43 yard line.
The Gamecocks wasted no time taking advantage of the turnover. On the third play after the fumble recovery, Garcia again hit Alshon Jefferey for a TD.
South Carolina 21, Alabama 3.
At this point, as it was most of the game, Williams-Brice Stadium was rockin'. The Gamecocks had come out and hit Alabama right in the mouth like they haven't been since, well I can't recall the last time.
3. The Drive in the Third Quarter
After such a stellar first half of play, the Gamecocks got off to a bad start in the second half. Returner Chris Culliver fumbled the opening kickoff, but luckily was able to recover.
The first snap of the second half sailed over Garcia's head, who promptly grabbed the loose ball and threw it through the back of the end zone to avoid an Alabama TD. The Tide kicked a field goal on their next drive to pull within seven.
I'm sure that most Carolina fans, including me, were thinking at this point, "Oh no. The same ol' Carolina may rear its ugly head."
But the Gamecocks proved this team is different than years past.
On their next possession, Carolina started on their own 18 yard line and seven minutes 55 seconds later, ended up in the Alabama end zone to stretch the lead back to 14 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
The key plays in the drive were the third down conversions. Carolina converted three first downs of eight yards or more via completions to Jefferey and Tori Gurley.
The Gamecocks then finished off the drive alternating RBs Brian Maddox and Marcus Lattimore, until Lattimore punched it in from the Alabama one yard line.
2. Fake field goal stop
In what some may consider the most questionable play call of the game, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban decided to try a fake field goal play with 11:35 remaining in the fourth quarter on fourth and 11 from the Carolina 25.
Alabama holder A.J. McCarron rolled left and threw a strike to Ed Stinson. Stinson couldn't hold on to the pass, and Carolina took over.
Even if the pass was completed, Gamecock LB Tony Straughter was all over Stinson with a host of other Gamecocks emerging that would have brought Stinson down before the first down marker.
Instead of trimming the lead to only four, Carolina takes over from their 26 yard line, looking to add to their lead.
1. Alshon Jefferey's one handed grab
It's usually hard to pick just one of Jefferey's receptions as his best of the game, but when you pull down a one handed catch, over a defender, and then scamper for 45 yards down to the Crimson Tide six yard line, it's easy.
This play was huge for Carolina as it essentially put the game out of reach for the Crimson Tide.
Carolina punched it in on the ground again with Lattimore in what proved to be the winning score...Carolina 35, Alabama 21.
Jefferey once again amazed the Gamecock crowd with his clutch and unbelievable receptions, and should start to garner some attention nationally in various post season awards. [cough] Heisman? [cough]
There were many more plays that could have made the list, but I feel these had the greatest impact on the game.
South Carolina now sits in unfamiliar territory at first overall in the SEC East. Alabama now finds itself a game behind undefeated LSU and Auburn in the SEC West.
Will this win help carry Carolina to where their "fate" wills? Here's one Gamecock fan that hopes it will.
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