Notebook: Gamecocks, SEC prevail over ACC

Ace Sanders has career night receiving, sets school punt mark

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 25, 2012 

— If any doubt existed about the SEC’s superiority in football over the ACC, none was left after Saturday’s slate of games.

Besides the Gamecocks stuffing the Tigers, Florida thumped Florida State, Georgia drilled Georgia Tech, and Vanderbilt crushed Wake Forest. Florida State and Clemson were clearly the ACC’s top teams, and they both fell hard to their instate rivals.

“It’s a big statement,” USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said. “To me, it’s the ACC vs. the SEC and everybody knows where the most physical ball comes from. We tried to come out and push them around a little bit, show them who was tougher.”

The Gamecocks piled up six sacks, including 4.5 by Clowney, and pulled the plug on Clemson’s electrifying attack that had lit up ACC foes all season.

“I love the ACC. I coached at Virginia Tech for seven years, but I think our style of football is a little different in the Southeastern Conference,” USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “I think we play a lot more physical football. I think when you play the schedule we play and you get to this game, we are battle-tested.”

Ace’s night

Junior wide receiver Ace Sanders had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career and didn’t need three quarters to get there. Sanders’ 34-yard touchdown catch with 11:48 left in the third quarter helped him finish with six catches for 119 yards. It was a milestone for Sanders and the best receiving game by a South Carolina player this year. Tight end Justice Cunningham had held that mark with a 108-yard game against Tennessee.

“I just told Dylan I had his back, if you ever need an outlet, just throw me the ball. It felt good,” Sanders said.

Sanders also set a school record for punt return yardage in a single season. Sanders has 363 yards in 25 returns. The previous record was 362 punt return yards set in 1971 by Dick Harris.

At his best

After Saturday, senior spur DeVonte Holloman has five career interceptions. Three of them have come against the Tigers. Holloman stopped a Clemson drive late in the second quarter when he made a leaping grab of a wobbly Tajh Boyd pass at the South Carolina 47-yard line. He also had interceptions against Clemson in 2009 and 2011.

Returns no issue

South Carolina came into the game hoping to keep the ball away from Clemson’s dangerous kickoff return men, and place-kicker Adam Yates did just that. Yates’ first five kickoffs went into the end zone for touchbacks. Yates entered the game with a 50 percent touchback average.

Yates also is 11-for-15 on the year in field-goal attempts. Yates was 2-for-2 in the contest as he connected on a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 43-yarder in the third quarter.

Here and there

... The Gamecocks wore all-white uniforms for the first time since a 2010 loss at Auburn.

... South Carolina extended its regular season non-conference winning streak to 17 games with the victory. USC’s last regular season non-conference loss came to Clemson in 2008.

... The Gamecocks established a school record with 21 wins over the past two seasons.

... Bruce Ellington had a season-high two touchdowns for the Gamecocks. He had a 13-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and a 6-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Ellington also tallied seven receptions, the most receptions by a Gamecock receiver this year.

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