South Carolina had a chance to make a statement as they hosted No. 3 Georgia, but the Bulldogs outmanned the Gamecocks to the tune of 41-17.
Dropped passes and the inability to establish a presence on the ground are not a good combination to try and take down one of the toughest teams in the country, and South Carolina’s offense just couldn’t hang with UGA’s defense.
Georgia out-gained the Gamecocks 473-336, but dominated in the run game to the tune of 271 yards to 54 for USC. Jake Bentley threw the ball 47 times, completing 30 of them and amassing 269 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Ty’Son Williams’s 26 yards were the high in rushing, and Bryan Edwards had himself a day with 111 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns.
The Georgia defense looked like they had the Gamecocks stopped on its first offensive series before the Bulldogs were called for defensive pass interference to keep the drive alive. It was short-lived, however, as Bentley’s pass was tipped and Georgia’s Deandre Baker returned it 56 yards before dropping it just shy of the end zone. Juwan Taylor, a senior linebacker for the Bulldogs, saw the miscue and pounced on the ball for the touchdown and the early 7-0 lead (although Baker officially got the TD in the stats sheet).
South Carolina got nothing going on their ensuing drive, punting to Georgia after a three-and-out. Georgia put together a four-play, 76-yard drive in just 1:15 (aided by a 15-yard penalty for a late hit) that was capped by a 17-yard touchdown run from D’Andre Swift to give them a 14-0 lead with 11:50 left in the first quarter.
USC showed life on their next possession, methodically working their way down the field—once again aided by a defensive pass interference call—for an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ate up over four-and-a-half minutes of game clock. Bentley was 6-for-8 with 54 yards on the scoring drive, but it was Samuel with the 13-yard touchdown pass to Edwards after some trickeration to make it 14-7 Georgia.
WR Deebo Samuel is out here throwing touchdowns now.pic.twitter.com/gmxHVBXg1P— Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 8, 2018
The Gamecock defense was stout, forcing Georgia into a 1st and 22 situation that became 3rd and 10. Jake Fromm, attempting just his second pass of the game, heaved the ball downfield, but the receiver shorted his route and Rashad Fenton picked off the pass. USC was unable to make anything happen offensively, eventually turning it over on downs at the UGA 34. UGA extended their lead to 17-7 thanks to a 45-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship with just 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
Neither team could get much going in the first part of the second quarter until the Gamecocks drove 71 yards to set up a 26-yard field goal to close the gap back to seven points at 17-10 with 5:57 left in the half. Georgia would take add to their lead heading into the half up 20-10 after USC was unable to make anything happen with its final possession of the second quarter and Blankenship connected on his second field goal of the half.
Bentley went 18-for-31 for 146 yards and an interception in the first half, with USC amassing just 32 yards on the ground in the first half. Both teams picked up 13 first downs apiece in the first two quarters, and Georgia’s Fromm only threw the ball 12 times, but he connected on nine of them for 79 total yards and an interception.
The second half it all went downhill.
Georgia needed just over two minutes in the second half to extend their lead to 27-10 as the Bulldogs ran all over the Gamecock defense. A one minute three-and-out possession gave the ball right back to UGA, which they turned into another touchdown to increase their advantage to 34-10. Rinse and repeat, and Georgia went up 41-10.
Bentley’s second interception of the game led to Georgia’s first punt of the second half. USC put up a four-play, 59-yard touchdown drive, capped with Bentley’s first passing score as he found Edwards for a 44-yard connection.
Georgia finished with 194 yards passing from Jake Fromm, who completed 15 of 18 pass attempts and had one touchdown to go with one interception.
With the loss, USC is now 1-1 on the season and will host Marshall next weekend.