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Nov. 24, 2007

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Mark Buchholz hit a 35-yard field as time expired to give No. 21 Clemson a 23-21 victory over South Carolina and leave Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier with the longest losing streak of his college career.

Buchholz, who starred on the Tiger soccer team this fall, had missed two earlier field-goal attempts. But he nailed the one that counted most and his teammates leaped in celebration at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Clemson (9-3) is 9-1 on South Carolina’s home field since 1989.

For Spurrier and South Carolina (6-6), the defeat was their fifth straight, and it leaves the Gamecocks with precarious postseason hopes.

A month ago, South Carolina seemed a sure bet at the postseason at 6-1 and No. 6 in the country.

The Gamecocks looked ready to end the skid in this one, overcoming Clemson’s 17-7 lead to go ahead 21-20 with 9 minutes left on the last of Blake Mitchell’s three TD throws.

However, Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper guided the Tigers into position. He found Aaron Kelly with a 12-yard pass on fourth-and-4. The two connected again moments later on an 18-yard pass to South Carolina’s 16.

That’s when Buchholz calmly hit the game-winner. A week ago, Buchholz was short on a 54-yarder at the end that would’ve tied things in the Tigers’ 20-17 loss to Boston College that cost them a chance at the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

Harper finished 28 of 38 for 229 yards and his 27th touchdown pass.

Kelly had nine catches for 134 yards, his third game this year with over 100 receiving yards.

James Davis rushed for 122 yards on 23 carries, while C.J. Spiller had 88 yards.

Kenny McKinley had eight receptions for 125 yards. He had 77 catches for the season, breaking the 21-year-old mark of former NFL star Sterling Sharpe (74).

Clemson blocked two punts in a game for the first time since a loss to Auburn in the 1997 Peach Bowl.

The Tigers now appear headed for the Peach or Gator bowls, finishing with five victories in their last six games.

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden improved to 7-2 against South Carolina, and 2-1 in the matchup with Spurrier.

Not many things had gone right for South Carolina during its four-game losing streak. That trend continued against Clemson.

Mitchell’s first throw was picked off by Chris Chancellor, setting up Buchholz’s 48-yard field goal.

Three minutes later, Nelson Faerber slid past blocker Mike Davis to block Ryan Succop’s punt and La’Donte Harris took it 10 yards for a touchdown to put Clemson ahead 10-0.

After Clemson scored on Faerber’s second career TD, return man Chris Culliver carried the kickoff into the end zone from the field of play to start the Gamecocks on their 1.

The Gamecocks seemed to grab momentum right before halftime on Carlos Thomas’ 67-yard fumble return after a catch by Clemson tight end Brian Lithicum. But replays showed Lithicum’s knee was down. Instead of South Carolina with first-and-goal at the 8, the Tigers kept possession.