By: Dory LeBlanc
In a game that pitted the SEC against its conference nemesis the Big 10, the #18 Michigan Wolverines were unable to hang on to a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter and fell to the #10 South Carolina Gamecocks 33-28.
South Carolina jumped out to a quick 14-3 lead in the first quarter after junior quarterback Connor Shaw unleashed a 56-yard pass to Damiere Byrd with just over a minute and a half into the game. Michigan fired back with a 39-yard field goal halfway through the opening quarter, but a 63-yard punt return by Ace Sanders put the Gamecocks up 14-3 with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
Michigan QB Devin Gardner found a wide open Drew Dileo for a five yard touchdown on third-and-three in the opening drive of the second quarter to pull within four of the Gamecocks, 14-10.
South Carolina answered on their following drive with a four-yard TD pass from QB Dylan Thompson to Ace Sanders, a Bradenton native, to extend the Gamecock lead to 21-10.
The scoring came to a stalemate until the third quarter when Matt Wile kicked a 52-yard field goal to give the Wolverines three more points with four minutes expired in the second half.
Michigan then took the lead for the first time of the game as Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 10-yard touchdown towards the end of the third quarter to make it 22-21.
With a heavy Maize and Blue crowd at Raymond James Stadium behind them, the Wolverines' offensive line was able to hold off a fierce South Carolina pass rush led by sophomore Jadeveon Clowney throughout much of the game until the fourth quarter when the Hendricks Award (given to the nation's best defensive end) winner delivered one of the most fierce hits in college football this year on UM's Vincent Smith, which sent the running back eight yards backwards, without the ball and his helmet.
Clowney recovered the ball, which put South Carolina on the Michigan 31. On the ensuing play, SC QB Connor Shaw found Sanders for a TD - which gave the Gamecocks a 27-22 lead.
The Wolverines regained the lead on the next possesion after Gardner found Gallon again - this time for 17 yards. The two-point conversion failed, however, with four minutes left.
With 3:29 on the game clock, the Gamecocks, using both Shaw and Thompson at quarterback in the series, marched down the field 70 yards to cap off the drive with a 32 yard TD pass from Thompson to Bruce Ellington. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but with 11 seconds left in the contest and down by five, Michigan needed a touchdown for the win.
Starting at the Michigan 32, Gardner had time for one attempt which went awry as his arm was hit as he tried to throw the ball, sealing the victory for South Carolina.