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November 16, 2013

Carson keys winning drive

If it was going to happen, it had to happen now: Ninety-five yards from the end zone, trailing by one, possible SEC East crown and trip to Atlanta on the line and 9:32 left in the game.

With the SEC's leading rusher on the bench with bruised ribs and his top backup complaining of a hamstring, Shon Carson got the call on first-and-10 from the 10 and started running.

And running.

And running.

Fifty-eight yards later, the Gamecocks had

life. Seven plays later the Gamecocks had victory, as Elliott Fry's 22-yard field goal gave South Carolina its first lead of the game with 6:43 left. Fry would add his career-high fourth field goal with 2:16 left and the Gamecocks claimed a 19-14 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.

"I just had to trust my O-line, followed my blocks and I got in the secondary," said Carson, who finished with a career-high 102 yards on 13 carries.

Before the game, talk centered around how motivated Mike Davis was to play against the team he once was verbally committed to and the return to the field of Brandon Wilds for the first time since the Central Florida game.

After the game, it was Carson who was the toast of Gamecock Nation as Davis missed key time with bruised ribs and Wilds was too bothered by a hamstring to play. He says he never felt like the odd man out.

"I didn't feel left out," Carson said. "Coach (Everette Sands) was still getting me reps in practice and they were keying on Mike, so it opened up for me."

Steve Spurrier said he was as surprised as anyone when the draw call on first down went for such a big gain.

"Shon Carson finally broke a run there at the end," Spurrier said. "We called a little draw play there and somehow or other he popped out of there. Gosh, he must have gone 60 yards or so."

"Mike's ribs were bruised a little bit. He was OK, then he wasn't OK. Brandon Wilds said his hamstring was hurting. I said, 'Why'd you suit-up then?' because we thought this was a game (where) he's good on that inside zone-read play. And he was hurt. So Shon was in and he came through pretty well."

Carson said it was nice to hear his name called to be the tailback for what was the game's biggest drive.

"I waited to see who they were going to send in, and sure enough I was the one to go in the game," Carson said.

Connor Shaw said Carson's running in the clutch was a big boost to the team.

"I'm so excited for Shon," Shaw said. "He ran his ass off today. He deserves every bit of (the success) because he works hard.

"I'm so proud of the way he played."

For Carson, the performance was more sweet given the adversity he's overcome in his injury-plagued career having played in just three games over two years.

"It felt great," Carson said. "I went through a lot of injuries, but it finally paid off. I worked hard over the summer to be ready."

His only regret? Getting caught from behind. When he broke free, did he think he'd be run down?

"Not really," Carson said. "But Florida has a lot of fast players on their defense. This is the SEC, so it can happen."

Game coverage courtesy of Rush's
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