Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#1 propels Gamecocks to win #11

South Carolina knew they would be facing a focused and fired up Nebraska team on Monday afternoon.  The Huskers knew their best shot at an upset over the Gamecocks would involve building a big lead early before the ferocious USC defense got cranked up and rolling.  And yes, despite Bo Pelini’s odd and delusional post-game idiocy, you have to concede that the farm boys had several chances to do just that in the first half.  
Instead of trailing at the half, there came a moment that will live in Gamecock hearts forever.  #1 Alshon Jeffery’s leaping reception on the last play of the first half blasted Carolina into the lead and without a doubt changed the momentum of the game.  It also may be the greatest single play in USC’s football history but I will get to that later. 

Nebraska to their credit did not fold up the tent.  They came out and put everything into their first drive of the third quarter. When it fizzled, ending in a missed field goal, the rest of the day belonged to the Gamecock defensive line.  Tyler Martinez probably woke up several times Monday night dreaming about Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Travian Robertson and Devin Taylor.  

The offensive side of the ball stayed true to form, doing just what it needed to compliment the D.  Kenny Miles provided the spark it needed to tack on a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns, Connor Shaw was quiet and efficient all day, and this USC team completed its march into history in resounding fashion.  

Having said all of that, let’s return to Alshon Jeffery.  The Gamecock superstar has been through a lot this year and he deserved a triumphant exit.  His four catches for 148 yards and that incredible hail-mary touchdown both kept Carolina in the game and then put them ahead for good.  Alshon was mugged and mauled all day by the Husker’s defensive backs.  Finally, after taking two direct punches after a second half play, it was too much for anyone to take.  Jeffery (gasp) shoved back one time and was kicked out along with the chief thug on the other team.  

Somehow, 40 punches were equal to 1 shove back but I digress.  Regardless, it happened and unlike the Nebraska player, who hung around for a bit to further show his rear end, Jeffery jogged off the field as you’re supposed to do.  He was later named MVP of the game by the bowl and gave some very humble remarks to the crowd.  

But was his touchdown catch the greatest single play in Gamecock history?  Talking to my Dad after the game, we came up with a few candidates for that title.  There was Alex Hawkins’ tremendous kickoff return at Texas in the 50s.  Billy Dupree’s game winning Field Goal at Virginia Tech and Tommy Suggs TD run at North Carolina in the 60s also are good candidates.  Raynard Brown had a kickoff return against FSU in 1984 and Brad Edwards’ interception return against Clemson in 1987 also stand out.  

Yes, there are many others not listed and at best this is a debatable opinion.  One thing that is clear about Jeffery’s catch:  It should be on any Gamecock fan’s top 5 list of memorable moments, and assuming Alshon goes pro (and most of us think he will), he leaves Columbia a true hero.  Move over Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Kenny McKinley, Troy Williamson and Sidney Rice.  The new #1 receiver of all-time at the University of South Carolina is Alshon Jeffery of St. Matthews, South Carolina!

11 wins, 2 losses and zero moral victories!  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

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