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August 28, 2012

Total Recall: 2011's top plays, No. 3



As the start of the 2012 season nears, GamecockCentral.com's David Cloninger takes a look back at the top plays of 2011, South Carolina's finest year. The No. 1 play from last year will be revealed on Aug. 30, USC's season-opener.

NO. 3: Terror Twins

The game: No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia, Sept. 10

The scene: South Carolina 38, Georgia 35, 3:21, fourth quarter

The cast: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end Melvin Ingram, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, Georgia left tackle Cordy Glenn, Georgia left guard Dallas Lee

The setup: Forget a chess match. This was a flat-out war.

Each team coming up with some other crazy way to knock the other in the mouth. Each refusing to back down. Each using the last weapon in the arsenal to try and get ahead.

But even after Georgia unleashed a shotgun blast in the form of running back Isaiah Crowell, USC had an answer.

Specifically, a 6-foot-6 heat-seeking missile who had dominated headlines over the past year with his freakish blend of athleticism, speed and nastiness.

USC had just scored to re-take the lead, but everybody in Sanford Stadium knew that three points wasn't going to hold up. They all hunkered down waiting for the next "Did you SEE that?!?!?" play.

They didn't have to wait long.

The play: Murray coolly took his spot at the Georgia 30-yard-line, plenty of time to guide the Bulldogs downfield for the game-winning touchdown and once again break USC's heart. Simple formation, with Crowell right beside him.

On defense, Clowney had lined up with Ingram beside him, Clowney with his fingers in the dirt, Ingram standing up. The snap came and Clowney couldn't help but notice that neither Glenn nor Lee came to block him - they both were headed to the second level to knock out a linebacker. Clowney, even though he was just a freshman in his second career game, needed no permission or reason to stop and think, "They can't be serious, can they?"

He just ran.

Murray backpedaled at the sight of the dreadlocked beast coming at him, bad intentions clearly evident and no way to escape. Clowney was on him before he could try and get away or dump the ball.

Murray tried to duck away from the onslaught, but Clowney grabbed a handful of Murray's red jersey as he dashed by and held on. Murray emerged from the duck but had no time to celebrate, Clowney finding his feet and slinging Murray back around like a rag doll.

The ball popped loose and Ingram, who had charged in with Clowney, read it perfectly. He reached to grab it but couldn't get hold, his hand batting it forward; the second try was perfect as Ingram stayed with it, scooped at the 5 and trotted across the goal line.

Touchdown. Too quickly.

Murray got Clowney'd.



The aftermath: The stunned crowd didn't know what happened, cameras panning to show dejected fans in red and ecstatic fans in garnet. The relentless pursuit of the nation's No. 1 recruit had paid off.

Ingram flipped the ball to the referee and gave him a pat on the butt before accepting his congratulations, as a shell-shocked Murray walked off the field and, with wide eyes, threw up his hands. What the hell just happened?

Even though Murray would pull the game back within three points, Ingram and Clowney had sent a message. Georgia was not going to win that day.



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