This was a game that Georgia could have easily won, say, by a 42-14 tally.
But because the Bulldogs’ offense couldn’t cash in on three or four excellent scoring opportunities, Georgia kept South Carolina in the contest until the final few minutes before holding off the Gamecocks by 28-14 in a rare Sunday college football game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
After South Carolina pulled to within 21-14 with 1:40 left in the game, Georgia sophomore wide receiver Terry Godwin effectively put the game away for the Bulldogs when he fielded the Gamecocks’ onside kick and sped 43 yards for a touchdown, his score coming with 1:33 left and giving Georgia its two-touchdown victory.
On a day that freshman quarterback Jacob Eason could complete only 5-of-17 passing attempts for a meager 29 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception, the Georgia running game took over and literally pounded the Carolina defense into the ground. Sony Michel ran for 133 yards, Nick Chubb added 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns and freshman tailback Brian Herrien continued to excel by dashing for 82 yards on just nine carries.
And the Georgia defense, although allowing Gamecock senior quarterback Perry Orth to complete 26-of-36 passes for 288 yards with one interception (by Malkom Parrish), recorded five sacks of Orth and, also, completely stymied the SC running game by limiting the Gamecocks to a measly 30 net yards on 26 attempts.
All in all, it was a sound victory at a venue where Georgia hasn’t fared well in recent years. Now the 4-2 Bulldogs (2-2 SEC) make ready for Saturday’s homecoming game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, kickoff set for noon at Sanford Stadium.
But first, let’s go down the STATS THAT MATTER, which will readily reflect why the Bulldogs didn’t win this particular game in a much more dominating fashion.
Plays of 20 plus yards, offense and defense
Georgia’s only 20-plus gainer in the first half, a 26-yard run by freshman Herrien to the South Carolina 5 near the end of the half was nullified due to a holding call on Godwin. The Bulldogs then got a stirring, 40-yard run by Chubb to the SC 9-yard line in the second half but again, couldn’t get any points from it as Eason was intercepted two plays later. Orth completed passes of 21, 33 and 39 yards en route to a 288-yard day throwing the football.
Untimely Mistakes (turnovers, penalties, clock management miscues, etc)
The Bulldogs stopped themselves on several occasions in the first half as there were holding calls on wideouts Michael Chigbu and Godwin, as mentioned the one on Godwin coming on Herrien’s 26-yard run and negating another possible Georgia score at the end of the half. Then D’Andre Walker was slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for shoving a Gamecock in the back on a South Carolina punt. Also, in the final seconds of the half, there was a clock mismanagement by Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff as following the holding call on Godwin, the Bulldogs had opportunity for an additional throw to the end zone only to let the final seconds tick off the clock. Smart blamed himself, saying he thought incorrectly that the clock would be stopped after the penalty. Walker incurred another 15-yard penalty late in the game when he roughed the passer, that coming after Dominique Sanders was slapped for pass interference. Those two plays put the ball on the Georgia 1 and enabled the Gamecocks to pull within 21-14 with the 1:40 left. And, as mentioned, the deflected pass interception thrown by Eason was a costly one as the Bulldogs failed to get points after Chubb’s 40-yard dash inside the Carolina 10.
Special teams wins vs. miscues
The biggest special team play, of course, was Godwin’s putting the game away when he scooped up South Carolina’s onside kick and sped 43 yards for the touchdown. Georgia’s kick coverage for the most part was good and freshman punter Marshall Long kicked well. Although Long averaged just 38.5 yards on six punts, he kicked the Gamecocks dead three times inside the 20. Long had a 59-yard boot that rolled dead at the SC 4 but also had one punt that traveled just 17 yards.
Nothing really to complain about here, as evidenced by the Gamecocks’ mere 30 yards net rushing, Georgia’s front seven locked up Carolina’s running backs and as the game went on also got an excellent pass rush against Orth, sacking the SC QB five times on the afternoon.
Yards after contact
Did you see Nick Chubb making his splendid 40-yard run in the third quarter? He broke at least five Carolina would-be tackles along the way and must have had a good 35 yards or so gained after the initial hit on him. And add Sony Michel and Brian Herrien to the list. Time and again, they pulled away from Gamecock defenders, not going down until they had crossed the first down marker. The result … 326 yards of rushing real estate for the Bulldogs against Will Muschamp’s defensive unit.
The Bulldogs forced three turnovers by the Gamecocks in the first two quarters with Malkom Parrish intercepting an Orth pass at the SC 28 to set up the Bulldogs’ second touchdown, a 1-yard run by Chubb. Georgia also got fumble recoveries in the first half from Roquan Smith and DeAndre Baker inside Gamecock territory but couldn’t cash points from these two turnovers.
Red Zone (offense/defense)
The Bulldogs cashed points on three of their four trips inside the Red Zone. The Gamecocks didn’t advance inside the Georgia 20 but twice and scored touchdowns both times.
Third down conversions
The Bulldogs converted first downs on 6-of-12 third down tries while the Georgia defense allowed the Gamecock offense to be successful only two times out of 13 third-down opportunities.
Run/pass attempts (total plays)
Georgia, winning the time of possession by 35:02 minutes to Carolina’s 24:58, ran 67 total plays, rushing the ball 50 times and passing it just 17 times. South Carolina had 62 total plays, throwing the football 36 times and running it only 26 times.