for this game

Clemson bounces back at South Carolina's expense

Nov 25, 2007 - 6:37 AM COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- A week after suffering a heartbreaking loss, Clemson sent South Carolina fans home in tears.

Mark Buchholz missed two field goals but made three, including a 35-yarder as time expired, to lift the 21st-ranked Tigers to a 23-21 victory over the Gamecocks in a battle of Palmetto State rivals.

A week ago, Clemson was less than two minutes away from reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

But Boston College's Matt Ryan threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Rich Gunnell with 1:47 remaining, rallying the Eagles to a 20-17 victory last weekend.

Boston College snapped Clemson's four-game winning streak and clinched the ACC's Atlantic Division title.

On Saturday, the Tigers (9-3) were two minutes away from consecutive losses to the Gamecocks for the first time since 1968-70. But Cullen Harper led Clemson down the field on a late drive to set up Buchholz's winning kick.

"The only thing that concerned me was missing two (field goals)," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "That was the only thing that concerned me, but Mark (Buchholz) is a pretty tough guy mentally. He was due. The odds were in his favor after missing two field goals."

South Carolina (6-6) took a 21-20 lead with eight minutes to play on a four-yard touchdown pass from Blake Mitchell to Dion Lecorn.

But South Carolina's defense couldn't keep Clemson off the scoreboard, and the Gamecocks' late-season slide was punctuated with a tough loss to their bitter rival.

"In the end, they put a drive together, they came up (with a good play) on third-and-18," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We couldn't stop them. That's the way it happened."

Coach Steve Spurrier had South Carolina off to a 6-1 start, but it ended the season with five straight defeats and has now lost to Clemson six times in the last seven seasons. Clemson leads the series, 64-37-4.

"We're just not real good, and we're not coached real well, which is my fault," Spurrier said. "There may be a way we can get a bowl bid. I was proud of our guys and the way they scrapped and clawed. We didn't make enough plays to win the game."

Harper completed 28-of-39 passes for 231 yards. He was intercepted once and threw a TD to Nelson Faerber in the second quarter that gave the Tigers a 17-7 lead at the half.

"It's a long game. You just have to keep fighting and never give up," Harper said. "You have to trust in the coaching staff with the plays they have called. You have to trust the receivers and just keep fighting."

Mitchell was 18-of-31 for 281 yards with three TDs and a pair of interceptions.

"We played our hearts out. We gave all we had. We were down early and defense stepped up and helped," Mitchell said. "We were fortunate enough to make plays and score touchdowns. We could have done a lot of things better than we did, though.

"We started out on the season decent. What happened, happened. We came out tonight and gave it our best shot, but we fell short. Everything I had was on the field, I played as hard as I could."