No. 3 Georgia withstood a second-quarter challenge from No. 24 South Carolina and overwhelmed the Gamecocks in the second half, winning 41-17 on a stifling hot afternoon Saturday at Columbia, S.C.
The parking lots at Williams-Brice Stadium started filling up with disappointed South Carolina fans even before Brian Herrien’s 15-yard run up the middle punctuated a dominant 21-point third quarter for Georgia.
The Bulldogs already were the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC East. The Gamecocks were seen as their only threat.
Saturday’s game did nothing to give anybody else in the East hope.
A field goal late in the first half by Rodrigo Blankenship combined with a quick score to open the third quarter gave Georgia a 27-10 lead. Mecole Hardman caught a pass on the left sideline, got a great block from Tyler Simmons and stiff-armed a South Carolina defender to break free for a 34-yard touchdown.
Elijah Holyfield added a 5-yard touchdown run on Georgia’s second possession of the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 34-10 lead.
The quick start in the second half by Georgia was similar to how the game started. The Bulldogs stunned South Carolina early, scoring twice in the first four minutes. On South Carolina’s first possession of the game, Bulldogs cornerback Deandre Baker plucked a deflected pass out of the air and took it to the house. Well, actually, the front door. Baker carelessly released the ball before crossing the goal line. But linebacker Juwan Taylor, trailing on the play, alertly scooped up the ball in the end zone. It happened so quickly that Baker was initially credited with the touchdown, but it was changed to Taylor.
The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out, then scored on a four-play, 76-yard drive, with D’Andre Swift running around left end 17 yards for the score. Just like that, it was 14-0 with 11:50 left in the first quarter.
The Gamecocks answered with a long drive of their own. Receiver Deebo Samuel tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards, fooling Georgia freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell.
South Carolina threatened to tie the score before halftime, or at least pull to within four points, driving from its 8-yard line to midfield before stalling.
—Field Level Media