The 1992 year was a tale of two seasons for the South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Sparky Woods. The Gamecocks were in their first season of Southeastern Conference football, and it presented plenty of challenges for the Gamecocks. They started the season 0-5 but turned it around and had a 4- 6 record as they prepared to face Clemson.
For Woods, a win against the rival Tigers hadbeen an elusive, having lost in his previous three attempts. Going into the 1992 season, beating Clemson was on a shortlist of goals he wanted the Gamecocks to achieve.
“ We had about four or five goals for our season. We wanted to have a first class program, we wanted to graduate our studentathletes, we wanted to be competitive when we joined the SEC, we wanted to compete for the SEC championship, and we wanted to beat Clemson. Because of the nature of that rivalry, it wasn’t just another game,” Woods says.
Wood’s attitude toward the game was different heading into the 1992 showdown compared to previous years. In a normal Friday interview, his reaction was that he planned for South Carolina to win the game, but on this Friday interview Woods said that South Carolina was going to win the game.
It began as a backand forth battle between the two squads. Clemson took an early 3-0 lead following a 23- yard Nelson Welch field goal. South Carolina fought back and captures its first lead of the game after quarterback Steve Taneyhill threw a 21- yard touchdown pass to receiver Asim Penny. A 26- yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Tim Jones gave Clemson the lead back.
After that score, South Carolina took control of the game. With the score tied at 10- 10, Taneyhill found Toby Cates for a 30- yard touchdown pass. One last score, this time from running back Brandon Bennett, sealed the win for South Carolina, 24-13.
It was an important win for Woods.
“It means a lot to the Gamecock family. You want to win that game more than any other. I felt it was part of the responsibility as the head coach of South Carolina to do that,” Woods says.
Both South Carolina and Clemson finished the season with 5- 6 records, and Woods finally checked off one of his goals as head coach of the Gamecocks.
“ It was something that we set out to do when we first came there. Obviously, it’s a big game in South Carolina. I had made a point in doing everything we could to catch and beat Clemson. That win up at Clemson was the most gratifying win.”
Next Week: 1955: Clemson’s Charlie Bussy
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