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Posted Nov 20, 2004
CLEMSON – As South Carolina quarterback Syvelle Newton’s fourth down pass intended for Matthew Thomas fell incomplete with 5:48 left to play, it was time for Clemson to start savoring its third straight victory over its hated rival.
However, what was supposed to be a glorifying and exuberant closing minutes turned out to be anything but.
New television replays show Newton laying on his back following the incomplete pass and a fist from a Clemson defender punching him through his face mask. Then to put it mildly, chaos ensued.
An ugly brawl between the two teams that involved nearly every player from each squad took place and wasn’t limited to just one spot on the field. It was such a huge fight that it will forever overshadow Clemson’s impressive 29-7 victory in South Carolina coach Lou Holtz’s last regular season game.
“This is the first time that this has ever happened to me in a football game,” Holtz said. “There is no excuse, I take responsibility. There is no place in football for it. Since this was my last regular season game, I was disappointed that things got out of hand between the two teams even before kickoff.
“Usually the team that does that stuff is the team that is not winning.”
The fight even carried over near the hill, where fans started throwing objects at the South Carolina players.
The massive brawl then turned into several small ones in which players from both sides sustained massive blows. Each team had members there were literally decked to the ground.
Gamecocks defensive lineman Charles Silas floored a Clemson player with a punch and then was blindsided by a Clemson's Duane Coleman, which sent Silas to the ground as well. That was just one of several mini fights that transpired.
“This is a very intense rivalry,” Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said. “I don’t want to minimize it and I want to apologize from our end and our perspective and there’s not much I can say about it other than that.”
Near the very end of it all, Clemson reserve tailback Yusef Kelly, a senior playing in his last home game, who threw a large amount of punches in his own right, grabbed a South Carolina helmet, believed to belong to running back Demetris Summers, and threw it into the stands.
“Tempers flair,” Kelly said. “There would be no sports if attitudes weren’t involved. … I was just trying to give the fans their money worth. I tried to give them a souvenir, but they threw it back. If I would have known that they were going to throw it back, I would have kept it myself.” Every law enforcement official in the stadium rushed to the field and tried to break up the fight. The only problem was they were outnumbered and undersized.
No one was ejected from the game for either school and thus the ACC likely won’t hand down suspensions. But that doesn’t mean that Bowden or the school administration won’t do it.
Bowden said there may have been another reason why such an ugly display took place. He cited the even more brutal fight that occurred Friday night in an NBA game involving Detroit and Indiana, where players from the Pacers stormed into the crowd to attack fans that had provoked them by throwing things.
“For 24 hours, they’ve watched that basketball fiasco on TV,” he said. “That’s all they’ve watched. Every major new program, that thing was covered and they sat there and watched it, watched it and watched it.”
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