The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 30-13 in the 2012 Capital One Bowl in front of an announced crowd of 61,351at the Florida Citrus Bowl Monday afternoon.
“Wonderful win,” said South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier. “We are proud of this team we got. They played extremely hard, but we won the fourth quarter and our defense was sensational. Great win for all Gamecocks.”
“We are disappointed, obviously. But I am proud of this football team and proud of the season we had,” Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pellini said. “Bottom line is, we had opportunities. You can’t give a good football team the amount of things we gave South Carolina today and not take advantage of as many opportunities we had.”
Nebraska struck first on a three play, 46-yard drive that took just 56 seconds off the clock, culminating in a 30-yard Taylor Martinez pass to Kenny Bell. South Carolina’s Travian Robertson blocked the point-after kick and Stephon Gilmore recovered the ball, and then ran it back for two to make the score 6-2. It was the first extra-point kick Nebraska had not made all year (43-43).
“I thought ‘We’ve got to score with them,’ if it’s going to be one of these kind of games,” Spurrier said. “They had penalties and sacks. And when you have a bunch of minus plays, it’s hard to go anywhere. It was helpful to us, certainly.”
Brett Maher’s ensuing kickoff was returned 45 yards by Bruce Ellington. South Carolina then put together an 11-play, 55-yard drive with not a single pass thrown that culminated in a Connor Shaw sneak for one yard and six points. Jay Wooten’s extra point gave the Gamecocks the lead, 9-6 with 6:04 left in the first quarter.
The Gamecocks defense stiffened on the next Nebraska possession and forced Nebraska to punt. A costly facemask penalty on Kelcy Quarles on the punt gave the ‘Huskers a new set of downs, and three plays later, the lead as Ameer Abdullah scored from a yard out. Maher’s extra point went untouched and Nebraska went up 13-9. It was the last time the Cornhuskers would score in the game.
“We had opportunities,” Pellini said. “Not to put them away but to get a couple-score lead and we didn’t execute.”
“How about a hand for our defense for playing three quarters of shut-out ball,” said Spurrier. “That’s pretty damn good!”
D.J. Swearinger came up big defensively on Nebraska’s second possession of the third quarter, forcing an Abdullah fumble on the Gamecocks’ 8 which was recovered by Aldrick Fordham. The Gamecocks immediately looked to punish Nebraska for their mistake. Shaw connected with Capital One Bowl MVP Alshon Jeffery for 78 yards. Unfortunately for South Carolina fans the offense stalled and Jay Wooten’s field goal missed.
The Gamecocks’ defense gave the offense another shot on the Cornhusker’s next possession as Gilmore intercepted a Martinez pass. With just 7 seconds left in the half, Shaw lofted a 51-yard Hail Mary to Jeffery for the go-ahead touchdown as time expired. Wooten’s kick was good and the Gamecocks hit the locker room with a 16-13 lead.
“Connor rolled out, dodged one or two guys, and next thing I knew he got his feet and got a good throw on it,” Spurrier said. “That was good for us and after that our defense really stymied them the rest of the day.”
“We practice it all the time,” said Jeffery. “Normally I tip it to someone. Coach Spurrier tells me if I get a chance to catch it and score, catch it and score. And that’s what I did.”
“We didn’t execute the play, and they did,” said Pellini. “Good for them. Did our guys get deflated? I don’t think so. We kept playing hard. We were our own worst enemy… the penalties started creeping up in the second half.”
After a scoreless third quarter, South Carolina continued the onslaught, going 41 yards on five plays and ending the drive with a 9 yard pass from Shaw to Kenny Miles. Wooten’s kick made it a ten point game, 23-13.
The Gamecocks showed facets to their offense as they moved from the quick strike to the methodical drive on their next possession. The 71-yard drive was the nail in Nebraska’s coffin, as the Gamecocks converted twice on fourth down and once on third down before capping the drive with a three-yard rush from Miles for six. Wooten again added the extra point for the final 30-13 score.
Following a Nebraska three-sacks-and-out, South Carolina backup quarterback Dylan Thompson came out in the victory formation. Two kneeldowns later and the Gamecocks had their fifth all-time bowl game win and became the winningest Gamecocks team under Spurrier.
“Like I told the guys, next year’s team, they’ll try to win 12 because 11 already happened,” Spurrier said.
(Article by Neil Tredray)