TAMPA, Fla. — Connor Shaw led No. 11 South Carolina to the brink of victory and Dylan Thompson carried the Gamecocks over the hump in the Outback Bowl.
Thompson came off the bench to throw a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining Tuesday, enabling South Carolina to match a school record for victories in a season with a 33-28 win over No. 19 Michigan.
Thompson replaced Shaw during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw begin the march from his own 30. Devin Gardner’s third TD pass of the game had given Michigan a 28-27 lead.
Shaw threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns after missing South Carolina’s regular season finale with a left foot sprain. Thompson led the Gamecocks (11-2) to a victory over their archrival, and threw for 117 yards and two TDs a backup Tuesday.
Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for Michigan (8-5) since Denard Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season. Robinson took some snaps at quarterback and even attempted his first passes in a game since Oct. 27, but lined up mostly at running back and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries.
Ace Sanders caught TD passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw, who completed 18 of 26 passes before limping off on the final drive. The speedy receiver had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return — one of four plays over 50 yards that Michigan yielded.
Gardner was 18 of 36, including TD passes of 5 yards to Drew Dileo and 10 and 17 yards to Jeremy Gallon, who gave Michigan its late lead and finished with career bests of nine receptions and 145 yards. Robinson set the NCAA record for career yards rushing by a quarterback, hiking his four-year total to 4,495.
South Carolina standout defensive end was quiet for much of the day, but shifted momentum in the fourth quarter with a big hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith that sent the running back’s helmet rolling several yards backward and caused a fumble that the SEC defensive player of the year recovered to set up Shaw’s TD pass to Sanders for a 27-22 lead.
Robinson was injured during the first half of Michigan’s two-touchdown loss to Nebraska on Oct. 27. He missed the rest of that game, as well the next two against Minnesota and Northwestern before returning the final two weeks of the regular season to contribute in ways that didn’t require him to throw the ball.
The six-foot, 197-pound senior from Deerfield Beach, Fla., lined up at running back and also took take snaps without attempting a pass against Iowa and Ohio State while rushing for 220 yards on 23 carries and catching two passes for 24 yards.
Robinson entered the game during Michigan’s second possession and ran for 15 yards on his first play. Gardner threw 26 yards to Gallon, moving the Wolverines into position for Brendan Gibbons to kick a 39-yard field goal.
Down 14-3 after Sanders’ punt return, Michigan marched 75 yards in 11 plays to trim South Carolina’s lead to four, with Robinson carrying four times for 20 yards along the way. Gardner finished the drive by flipping his 5-yard touchdown to Dileo early in the second quarter.
Michigan began the day ranked second in the nation in pass defense, allowing 155 yards per game. South Carolina matched that in the opening half alone, with most of the yardage coming on Shaw’s long TD throw to Byrd and Thompson’s 70-yard completion to Jones that led to Sanders’ second TD for a 21-10 lead.
The Wolverines turned South Carolina’s only turnover into Gibbons’ 40-yard, second-quarter field goal and Matt Wile’s Outback Bowl-record 52-yard field goal trimmed Michigan’s deficit to 21-16 with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Three of Michigan’s five losses were to Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State, the teams ranked first, second and third in the final regular season Associated Press poll.
South Carolina ended on a five-game winning streak that followed consecutive losses to LSU and Florida. The Gamecocks also won 11 games last season.comments powered by Disqus