In a dramatic finish, South Carolina used a 32-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Dylan Thompson to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds left to defeat Michigan, 33-28 in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Connor Shaw began Tuesday’s contest with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd and Thompson closed it out with a 32-yard TD strike to Bruce Ellington in the final minute.
“Both those young men are just so super team-oriented,” South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier said. “There’s no jealousy, nothing. … Those guys are just really, really good teammates. Wonderful team players. We tried to tell Connor: ‘It’s your game.’ And it was his game, but Dylan was going to play. He understood that. It worked beautifully as it turned out.”
Ace Sanders caught touchdown passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw, who completed 18 of 26 passes before aggravating his foot injury and limping off during the final drive. The Gamecocks receiver had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return — one of four plays over 50 yards yielded by Michigan.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was quiet for much of the day, but shifted the momentum of the game in the fourth quarter with one monstrous hit.
Michigan ran its second fake punt of the game, gaining 4 yards to the Wolverines 41 for what was ruled a first down. South Carolina challenged the spot, but the ruling on the field was upheld.
Clowney then slammed into Michigan running back Vincent Smith just as he was taking the hand off from Gardner, jarring the ball loose.
Smith’s helmet was sent rolling backward and Clowney recovered the fumble to set up a TD pass to Sanders for a 27-22 lead.
Michigan responded with a touchdown strike that appeared to be the game-winning play but the Gamecocks began a march from their own 30-yard line and a 6-yard connection between Thompson and Ace Sanders on a fourth-and-3 play with :11 left on the clock sealed the deal.