Tigers roll as Holtz ends USC regular season career, 29-7 - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Tigers roll as Holtz ends USC regular season career, 29-7

Clemson's Reggie Merriweather scored three touchdowns Clemson's Reggie Merriweather scored three touchdowns

(Clemson) Nov. 20, 2004 - Lou Holtz's final regular-season game for South Carolina was one he'll probably want to forget.

Reggie Merriweather had three touchdowns and a career-high 125 yards to lead Clemson to a 29-7 victory Saturday over the Gamecocks in a game marred by a fourth-quarter brawl between the teams.

Holtz told his USC players before practice Thursday he was retiring. Reports have said former University of Florida and Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier has agreed to coach USC when Holtz leaves.

"You'd have to not know that President Bush was re-elected not to know what my plans are," Holtz said.

Holtz had pointed to this game since last November when the Gamecocks were run out of Williams-Brice Stadium, 63-17. He said it was the most embarrassed he'd ever been and vowed it would not happen again.

Instead, he lost to the Gamecocks' in-state rival for the fifth time in six seasons.

While the final margin wasn't as bad as a year ago, the Gamecocks (6-5) were dominated again.

Holtz, in a black South Carolina windshirt and garnet ball cap, paced the Death Valley sidelines. Nothing he thought of worked against the Tigers.

Merriweather had a 12-yard TD as Clemson (6-5) took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards to make it 20-7.

Emotions on both sides spun out of control late in the fourth quarter with a sidelines-clearing fight that delayed the game for about 10 minutes before coaches, police and security officers got things under control. Clemson became bowl eligible, but both Clemson and USC are turning down bowls this year.

There's one more game for Holtz, too, before he ends his 33-season career. It could be the Peach or Independence bowls, depending on how the rest of the Southeastern Conference shakes out.

Holtz stands eighth in career victories with 249. He's 33-37 at South Carolina. This one was bad from the start for the Gamecocks.

Cory Boyd fumbled away the opening kickoff and Clemson's Steven Jackson recovered on the South Carolina 9. Two plays later, Merriweather rushed in from 3 yards to put the Tigers up 7-0 only 6 seconds into the game.

Merriweather added a 7 yard touchdown run two series later and South Carolina could not recover.

The Gamecocks didn't get a first down until 10:37 was left in the second quarter. They punted nine times, five of those after going three-and-out.

Players from South Carolina and Clemson brawled late in the game Saturday, with 67-year-old coach Lou Holtz diving into the pile as peacemaker in his regular-season finale with the Gamecocks.

Police, security and coaches tried to separate the teams, who scuffled before the game started and continually pushed and shoved each other throughout.

The fight appeared to start at the line of scrimmage when South Carolina failed on a fourth-and-11. South Carolina offensive lineman Chris White was fighting with Clemson players and the others rushed to the center of the field to take part.

South Carolina receiver Matthew Thomas and Clemson cornerback Justin Miller also traded swings. The mass of players moved to the east end zone before security, state troopers and other law enforcement officers could break things up.

The public address announcer asked all players to clear the field.

Both teams were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

About the only good thing for the Gamecocks came on Syvelle Newton's desperation heave for a touchdown. With South Carolina facing 3-and-14 and the prospect of giving the ball up again, Newton scrambled away from two Clemson pass rushers and launched the ball nearly 60 yards in the air. Boyd turned to the right to catch the ball, held off defensive backs Tye Hill and Jamaal Fudge, and fell into the end zone to make it 14-7.

Both teams were coming off tough losses in the previous week. Duke shocked Clemson 16-13 on a last minute field goal last week, while Florida, Spurrier's old school and alma mater, whipped South Carolina 48-14.

The series dates to 1896 and the first year of football at Clemson, the fourth season for South Carolina. This will be the 96th consecutive year that Clemson and South Carolina have met on the gridiron, every year since 1909. Clemson holds a 62-36-4 advantage since the series first began in 1896. Clemson has won the last three games against USC and seven of the last eight.

Updated 3:33pm by BrettWitt with AP

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