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January 1, 2014

Ellington saves best for last

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If it was his last game in a South Carolina jersey, Bruce Ellington made it his best.

In No. 8 South Carolina's 34-24 win over No. 18 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, Ellington caught six passes, two for touchdowns, and a career-high 140 yards, including a 22-yard catch on fourth-and-7 down with his team trailing by three that may have been the best of his standout career.

"The fourth-and-five (sic) play was interesting in that we called the same play on third-and-15 (the play before) and Bruce went the wrong way," Spurrier said. "He didn't get the signal or something.

"Connor scrambled around and hit Brandon

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Wilds for 10 or 12 (sic), so we had that fourth-and-six (sic) and we called that corner route, the same play we had against Missouri. When Connor threw it a little high I said, 'Oohh, it may be a little high, and Bruce got a hand on it, tipped it to himself and came down with it.

"The touchdown was a very similar play, he broke wide open and (Shaw) hit him perfectly. Those were very important plays, obviously," Spurrier said.

Ellington said the acrobatic catches he made today were the result of work that began back in June.

"It just took working at it all summer, all week during practice" Ellington said. "And out quarterback right here, he delivered it, so I had to catch it.

Ellington told Gamecock Central after the game said he'd sit down with men's basketball coach Frank Martin when he got back and make a decision about whether he'll play basketball again this year or begin preparing for the NFL Draft,

"I haven't made a decision yet," Ellington said about leaving for the NFL. "I'm just happy to get the win today and celebrate with the team."

When it came to speculating about Ellington's future, Spurrier made it clear which sport Ellington had the brightest future in.

"I think Bruce has got a chance to play in the NFL if that's the direction he wants to go," said Spurrier before turning to Ellington on the postgame podium with a question. "You don't want to go to Europe to play basketball, do you?," Spurrier said. "He might want to go to Russia and play, I don't know."

Whatever his decision, Ellington will have left with another accomplishment he hoped for coming to South Carolina s a quarterback in high school but hadn't yet achieved in four previous passing attempts - throw a touchdown pass. He checked off that box on a pass to Connor Shaw in the second quarter that Spurrier had squirreled away in the playbook so long it probably had dust all over it.

"We've had that play in for about three years but we don't put it in every game. We were at breakfast today and I told Connor we're going to throw the one back to you. We had another one with Bruce coming around and the tight end sneaking out in the corner or something like that, but I said, 'Let's throw the one back to the quarterback. It's probably only going to be good once, anyway, when you have the same motion.' In fact, coach (Shawn) Elliott wanted the other one (during the game), and I said, 'You know what, I told (Connor) we're going to throw it to (him) first, so we're going to throw it to Connor.'

"I don't listen to coach Elliott all the time."

"Bruce threw a good ball, and Connor did a good little acting job. He hands it off and acts like he's not going anywhere, you've got to hesitate just a moment and you're able to break behind him and Bruce got him in there."

For Ellington and Shaw, the play was a chance to swap roles and do something neither had before - throw and catch a touchdown pass, respectively - and do it in possibly the last game for both.

"I wanted me a receiving touchdown," Shaw said. "What better way in my last game to get one? He told that at breakfast and I had it in the back of my mind, and I'm glad we called it."

So was Ellington, who said if his Gamecock career were over, he has no regrets.

"I've had a great time here," Ellington said. "Ever since I made the decision to go play football, I think it's been the right decision. I haven't had any regrets playing both sports. Playing as a team, that's what it's all about.

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