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August 19, 2012

Total Recall: 2011's top plays, No. 12

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. 12: Momentum Swung

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

The scene: South Carolina 21, Georgia 20, 2:32, third quarter

The cast: Spur Antonio Allen, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray

The setup: Georgia had been in control and had suddenly lost it. A fumble on a botched exchange between Murray and Isaiah Crowell had led to a 56-yard return from Stephon Gilmore, and a Stephen Garcia rush for the go-ahead touchdown. The Bulldogs had yet to really find themselves on offense, and Murray took the field hoping to do that.

Murray scrambled out of trouble for a short gain on first down, only to see a holding penalty whistled on guard Chris Burnette knock it back. Facing first-and-20 from his own 11-yard-line, Murray had little room to operate but felt he could get something going.

The play: Murray took the snap and faked the handoff to Crowell, who ran into the middle of the line. Tight end Orson Charles ran a slant to the 26, where he was the only red jersey between three white shirts, and Murray put plenty of mustard on the throw as the pass-rush came in.

Murray never saw that one of those white shirts, Allen, had been playing Charles off the line. Seeming to leap out of the shadow that bisected the field, Allen leaped and caught the bullet. He came down already running, and swiftly ran to the right sideline.

Allen never broke stride as he stepped into the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 28-20 and earning his third straight takeaway for a TD during a regular-season game.

The aftermath: The pick-six woke up Murray, as he played nearly flawless football for the rest of the game, and Georgia even took a 35-31 lead halfway through the fourth quarter, but the play showed that USC wasn't going away. The Gamecocks seemingly always had another big play in their back pocket - a couple of Top 25 plays that had already happened, and a few more yet to come.

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