As the start of the 2012 season nears, GamecockCentral.com's David Cloninger takes a look back at the top plays of 2011, South Carolina's finest year. The No. 1 play from last year will be revealed on Aug. 30, USC's season-opener.
NO. 18: Outtamyway
The game: No. 18 Clemson at No. 14 South Carolina, Nov. 26
The scene: South Carolina 10, Clemson 7, 10:58, second quarter
The cast: Running back Kenny Miles
The setup: In the grudge match for USC's only available championship (state), the Gamecocks had leaped ahead 10-0 but Clemson had scored a touchdown to get its feet back under it. USC was trying to keep the ball on the ground, but Brandon Wilds was limping after some early success, leaving Miles as the next in line.
Miles, with a torn tendon in his wrist limiting him to just five of the previous 11 games, had been an afterthought all season. His high had been 38 yards the week before against The Citadel. But USC had no one else to tote the ball, and it was only the second quarter, and Miles was the next guy available. Chances didn't look great, but the Gamecocks knew two things.
One, Miles had had one of the finest games of his career two years previous against the Tigers, rushing 17 times for 114 yards in a win over Clemson. And two, despite having several chances to do so, Kenny Miles would not quit, not while there was air left in his lungs and strength left in his legs.
Starting at his 20-yard-line, Connor Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a 5-yard out. Miles took his place beside Shaw in the backfield, and prepared to go to work.
The play: Snap. Miles took the ball, saw a brief hole open between center T.J. Johnson and right guard Terrence Campbell, and plunged his head into it. The pile converged but Miles was too fast, splitting the defense and finding daylight.
Miles secured the ball further and broke past safety Rashard Hall, Hall flailing away and getting a finger in Miles' facemask, but Miles jerked his head back around and kept running as Hall fell down. Just about to burst past the final wave and leave it as a catch-me-if-you-can, cornerback Bashaud Breeland got to Miles and dragged him down.
Miles had gained 28 yards, his longest carry of the year and the longest since he broke a 28-yarder against Florida State in the previous season's Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The aftermath: Although that drive ended in a blocked punt and a Clemson game-tying field goal, Miles had set the tone that he would not be denied on this night. He rushed 21 times for 71 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards, often bulling over Tiger defenders to do so. After Clemson tied the game at 10, USC scored the next two touchdowns, let its defense work, blew out the Tigers for the third consecutive year to settle a rivalry winning streak that hadn't been seen in 42 years and danced into a 10-win season for just the second time in school history.
Miles, meanwhile, scored two touchdowns in the Capital One Bowl, two of the only three times in his career that he's hit the end zone.
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