November 18, 2000….
A season earlier, Rod Gardner caught the decisive TD catch in a Clemson victory over rival UofSC in Williams Brice and on this night he would go on to cement his legacy as a “Gamecock Killer.”
Lou Holtz’ Gamecocks came in at 7-3, having lost two straight and ranked #25. Clemson was sitting at 8-2, ranked #16, and had already accepted a Gator Bowl bid.
After picking off Gamecocks QB Phil Petty three times in the 3rd quarter, the Tigers would get a FG from Aaron Hunt less than a minute into the 4th, giving themselves a 13-7 lead.
Then with 59 seconds remaining SC RB Derek Watson fumbled the ball into the end zone, where TE Thomas Hill fell on it to give the Gamecocks a 14-13 lead.
Death Valley was as quiet as its ever been on that cold, damp night. The few thousand UofSC fans that made the trip were already in celebration mode, as some Tiger fans started making their way towards the tunnels.
Then, facing a 3rd and 12 from his own 42 with 19 seconds left, Tigers QB Woody Dantzler took the shotgun snap, rolled right, and heaved a high, arching pass towards All American WR Rod Gardner.
CB Andre Goodman was underneath in coverage, and after a little contact, Gardner came down with the ball for a 50 yard reception, giving the Tigers a 1st down inside the Gamecocks 10, with just 10 seconds left.
Gamecock fans say it was a push off. Clemson fans say it wasn’t. Lou Holtz was irate when asked about the no call in the postgame interviews.
Aaron Hunt, who came in just 5-10 on FGs, would go onto hit the game winning FG to give Clemson the 16-14 win, leaving the Gamecock faithful in shock. A few in tears, even.
It’s a play that Clemson fans will never forget, and one UofSC fans still gripe about 19 years later. To see it, check the links below.