Thompson, Shaw help South Carolina earn Outback Bowl win
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - South Carolina proved on Tuesday that two quarterbacks are better than one.
Starter Connor Shaw threw for 224 yards and pair of scores, while backup Dylan Thompson also tossed two touchdown passes, including a 32-yarder with 11 seconds remaining to send the 11th-ranked Gamecocks to a 33-28 victory over No. 19 Michigan in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.
Shaw completed 18-of-26 passes and also rushed for 96 yards on 10 carries, but the junior quarterback was injured during South Carolina's go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter. Thompson carried the Gamecocks from there, completing back-to-back passes before spiking the ball at the Michigan 32 to stop the clock with less than 20 seconds left and his team trailing by one.
The sophomore signal-caller then found Bruce Ellington streaking down the seam for a 32-yard touchdown to give the Gamecocks a decisive five-point edge.
Thompson finished 7-of-10 for 117 yards and two scores, while Ace Sanders hauled in nine passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns and also returned a punt 63 yards for a score to help South Carolina (11-2) earn back-to-back bowl victories and notch its second consecutive 11-win season.
"I wasn't nervous," Thompson said of the final drive. "I knew I had great guys around me and I trusted them and just was confident."
Devin Gardner connected on 18-of-36 passes for 214 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for the Wolverines (8-5), who fell to 20-22 all-time in bowl games.
Denard Robinson, playing his final game in the maize and blue, carried the ball 23 times for 100 yards, while Jeremy Gallon finished with nine catches for 145 yards and two scores in the setback.
Robinson has amassed 4,495 rushing yards over his four years at Michigan to set the NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback, eclipsing the previous mark set by former West Virginia signal-caller Pat White (4,480, 2005-08).
"I'd rather win the game," Robinson said of setting the record. "I tried to make the most of it."
Michigan led 22-21 early in the fourth before South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made his presence felt.
With the Wolverines at their own 41, Clowney met running back Vincent Smith in the backfield and sent the senior's helmet rolling down the field. The force of Clowney's hit also knocked the ball free and the sophomore defensive end quickly scooped it up to give South Carolina possession at the Michigan 31.
On the next play, Shaw found Sanders in the back of the end zone for a 31-yard TD strike. Shaw was unable to convert the two-point try, though, leaving South Carolina with a 27-22 edge with just over eight minutes left.
Michigan answered quickly with a 10-play, 64-yard scoring march that Gardner kept alive with a 1-yard surge on 3rd-and-1. Facing 3rd-and-13 later in the drive, Gardner hit Gallon on a slant for a 17-yard touchdown, but Smith was stuffed on the two-point conversion to leave Michigan leading 28-27 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
On South Carolina's final drive, Shaw kept things moving with a 6-yard completion to Sanders on 4th-and-3 from the South Carolina 37.
Two plays later, Shaw shook free of a defender before finding Sanders for six yards, but both players were injured on the play, forcing Thompson to enter the game.
Thompson converted a 3rd-and-6 from the Michigan 39 with a 7-yard toss to Damiere Byrd before finding Ellington for the go-ahead score.
South Carolina opened the game with a quick scoring strike, as Shaw found Byrd for a 56-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage to give the Gamecocks a 7-0 edge just over 1 1/2 minutes into the game.
Gardner was intercepted on Michigan's ensuing possession, but the junior quarterback bounced back on the Wolverines' second touch.
Gardner completed three straight passes on the 8-play, 51-yard scoring drive, but the march stalled at the South Carolina 21 and the Wolverines were forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Brendan Gibbons.
Michigan lost yards on its next touch, forcing punter Matt Wile to kick the ball away from his own goal line. Sanders fielded the punt in his own territory before making a defender miss near midfield en route to a 63-yard punt return touchdown to make it 14-3 with 5:27 left in the first.
The Wolverines answered with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive spanning the first and second quarters. Michigan converted three third downs on the drive, which Gardner capped with a 5-yard TD toss to Drew Dileo on 3rd-and-3 to bring Michigan within 14-10 with 12:41 left in the second.
Thompson took over on South Carolina's ensuing touch and completed all four of his passes on the quick 4-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Thompson found Nick Jones for 70 yards on the third play of the drive before hitting Sanders for a 4-yard score to make it 21-10 with just under 11 minutes left in the half.
South Carolina running back Kenny Miles fumbled the ball away on South Carolina's next touch, setting up Gibbons' 40-yard field goal to trim the margin to 21-13 heading into the locker room.
South Carolina moved deep into Michigan territory on its opening touch of the second half following a 64-yard scamper from Shaw, but Adam Yates missed a 33- yard field goal to keep it a 21-13 margin.
Michigan answered with a 52-yard field goal from Wile on its ensuing touch before the Gamecocks turned the ball over on downs at the Michigan 35.
Gardner kept the ensuing Michigan drive moving with a 19-yard surge on 4th- and-1 and then converted a 3rd-and-5 with a 10-yard rush down to the South Carolina 22.
Two plays later, Gardner found Gallon for a 10-yard touchdown, but Gardner's pass on the two-point conversion was intercepted to leave Michigan clinging to a 22-21 lead late in the third quarter.
South Carolina responded with a deep drive into Michigan territory, but Yates' 43-yard field goal try was blocked to keep the Gamecocks behind by one early in the fourth.
South Carolina's 11 wins ties the school record set last year ... South Carolina improved to 6-12 in bowl games ... The Gamecocks threw for 341 yards, marking the first time this season Michigan has given up over 200 passing yards ... South Carolina beat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl last season ... Michigan finished 8-for-19 on third down, while South Carolina went just 3- for-10 ... Head coach Steve Spurrier won his third bowl at South Carolina to set a school record by a Gamecock coach.
01/01 20:16:09 ET