ATHENS, Ga. – South Carolina hardly resembled a 2-3 football team here Saturday as the Gamecocks put together their best showing of the season to stun the previously unbeaten and third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, 20-17 in two overtimes.
But as well as Will Muschamp’s 25-point underdog Gamecocks played in halting Georgia’s 16-game home winning streak, they had plenty of assistance from the Bulldogs, who turned the football over an uncharacteristic four times and tallied only two touchdowns on the day, one at the start of the second quarter and the second and last TD coming with just 1:48 left in the regulation game to forge a 17-17 tie and force the overtime. Georgia staged a brilliant 96-yard, 13-play drive for the tying score, which came on a 6-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Demetris Robertson to the back of the end zone.
When neither team could scratch in the first OT – Fromm throwing one of his three interceptions on the day and SC kicker Parker White missing a 33-yard field goal – the Gamecocks sewed it up on White’s 24-yard 3-pointer in the second extra period. Georgia’s attempt to force a third overtime literally went wide left when the always-reliable Rodrigo Blankenship misfired from 42 yards out.
The weekly Stats That Matter shows the Bulldogs dominating in the total statistics but also shows why Georgia is 5-1 today instead of 6-0. As Kirby Smart said in his post-game remarks, you’re not going to beat SEC teams committing four turnovers while forcing none by the opposing team.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS , OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
Although the Bulldogs clicked for 468 yards of total offense, explosive plays by Georgia were not found on this afternoon. The only 20-yards plus play, in fact, came on Fromm’s 33-yard hookup with George Pickens late in the third quarter. South Carolina’s first touchdown with just 1:58 left in the opening quarter came on Ryan Hilinski’s 46-yard strike to Bryan Edwards. The Gamecocks also had Israel Mukuamu’s crucial 53-yard pick-six of a Fromm pass in the waning minute of the second period.
Let’s see, all costly mistakes here by the Bulldogs: A pass interference call on J.R. Reed; the pick-6 touchdown thrown by Fromm, which enabled the Gamecocks to take a 17-10 halftime lead; a roughing-the-passer infraction on Adam Anderson; a holding call on Ben Cleveland that nullified a 19-yard run by James Cook; the two subsequent interceptions thrown by Fromm plus a fumbled snap on the Bulldogs’ first play of the fourth quarter at the SC 24-yard line; a pass interference call on cornerback DJ Daniel and then, the costly illegal shift at the end of regulation play that moved the ball back to the South Carolina 43 and prompted the UGA coaching staff not to call on Blankenship for a possible game-winning 60-yard field goal.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
Blankenship drilled a 50-yard field goal in the game’s first five minutes to give Georgia an early 3-0 lead. It moved his season record to a perfect 12-of-12 on attempted 3-pointers. But that streak ended when Blankenship had a 53-yard attempt blocked on the final play of the first half by the Gamecocks and then, of course, the 42-yard miss in the second overtime. Punter Jake Camarda, who had suffered a case of the shanks in recent games, was back booming ‘em in this game, averaging 57.7 yards on three kicks including a 66-yard punt that rolled dead at the SC 7-yard line.
All in all, the Georgia defense did its part and was sure tackling in limiting the Gamecock running attack, which came in averaging over 200 yards per game, to just 142 rushing yards. And through six games, the Bulldog defense still hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown.
Dismal day, as mentioned, in this category. The Gamecocks picked off the three Fromm passes and also recovered the quarterback’s fumbled snap. Conversely, South Carolina had no fumbles, didn’t throw any interceptions.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE, DEFENSE)
The Bulldogs got points on their three trips inside the red zone while Carolina only drove inside the Georgia 20 one time and didn’t score. However, both SC touchdowns came via long-range … the 46-yard touchdown pass from Hilinski to Edwards and the 53-yard interception run by Mukuamu.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
This is one category that the Bulldogs actually won Saturday as they went 9-for-18 on third-down conversions while the Gamecocks could convert on only 5-of-17 chances against the Georgia defense.
RUN, PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
The Bulldogs ran the ball 43 times for 173 yards and passed it a whopping 52 times for 295 yards. That’s 95 total plays for 468 yards. South Carolina ran 68 plays for 297 total yards. But winning the statistics war was of little consolation to Georgia as those four turnovers and missed touchdown opportunities made it all go for naught.