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August 14, 2012

Total Recall: 2011's top plays, No. 17



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. 17: Scoop and (Almost) Score

The game: No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia, Sept. 10

The scene: Georgia 20, South Carolina 14, 3:49, third quarter

The cast: Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, cornerback Stephon Gilmore

The setup: The Gamecocks had gotten their points after some big plays and momentum-shifters, but Georgia had started working its game plan - a lot of Crowell, gashing the USC defense time and again with his legs, and when the Gamecocks stacked the line, quarterback Aaron Murray simply drew in the blitz and threw over it to Crowell for more yards. The two had hooked up for a touchdown to take the third-quarter lead, and after the Gamecocks went three-and-out, Georgia was once again on the move.

Following a short Crowell run, Murray threw to tight end Michael Bennett, a low pass that Gilmore dove for at the same time as Bennett. Gilmore, a bit behind Bennett on the try, was whistled for pass interference and the Bulldogs had a first down at the USC 42-yard-line.

No question what Georgia was going to do, with a single-back set and Crowell already holding 88 rushing yards. The plan was to score and work clock. Crowell lined up behind Murray and waited for the snap.

The play: Murray took the snap, turned and held the ball out for Crowell, who was already on the move. Either Murray didn't follow the ball into Crowell's stomach or Crowell didn't grab it securely, but either way, the ball hit off Crowell's hands and bounded forward, where Gilmore, playing in on the jumbo run package, was waiting.

Gilmore cleanly picked up the ball and before the Georgia offensive line could react, Gilmore was past it and running hard. The Bulldogs pursued as Gilmore wove his way through his own blockers and the red jerseys around them, heading for daylight as he reversed course one more time and headed for the left corner.

Bennett, who Gilmore had just been called for interference on, finally brought him down as USC's Jimmy Legree, already celebrating a touchdown, hadn't come back to block. That earned Legree an earful but Gilmore a huge pat on the back, as USC had a first down at the Georgia 5.



The aftermath: Stephen Garcia took in the go-ahead touchdown two plays later and USC had a one-point lead after the extra point. The momentum was swiftly turning - and would turn even further after another Top 25 play shortly after.



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