In three of the last four years, South Carolina pulled a gigantic upset winning a game straight up when the Gamecocks were a 20 or more-point underdog. South Carolina was trying to do the same thing again Saturday in Athens as it came in as a 28-point dog. The Gamecocks then gave No.1 Georgia everything it wanted, but the Bulldogs used a strong second half to get the 24-14 come-from-behind win.
The Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks 21-0 in the second half holding USC to just 129 yards of offense while also forcing two turnovers over the last 30 minutes.
Georgia (3-0, 1-0) has now won 21 straight home games dating back to 2019 when the Gamecocks came to Athens and pulled the 20-17 upset in double overtime as a 21-point underdog.
Because of a knee injury, Georgia running back Daijun Edwards was playing in his first game of the season. He ran for a career high 118 yards and also scored a touchdown. It was the third time in his career that he rushed for more than 100 yards in a game.
Both quarterbacks were efficient but not spectacular as Georgia’s Carson Beck completed 27 of 35 passes for 269 yards. South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler connected on 22 of 42 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. He was also picked off on the Gamecocks final two possessions.
The Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1) scored the first touchdown of the game as Rattler found Antwane Wells Jr. on a 17-yard scoring strike on South Carolina’s first possession. The touchdown marked the first time this season the opposition has scored on Georgia in the first half.
The Bulldogs were able to answer with a Peyton Woodring 32-yard field goal on their next possession to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 7-3 and the scored stayed that way until the end of the first half when South Carolina’s Dakereon Joyner scored on a two-yard run to cap a 5 play, 80-yard drive with 1:00 left in the half. That gave the Gamecocks a 14-3 halftime lead.
This game marked the first time Georgia failed to score a touchdown in the first half since last year’s road game at Missouri when the Bulldogs rallied to win 26-22.
“The message at halftime was: win one moment at a time. If you can win one moment at a time, we can get ourselves back in this thing,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “I told them, look guys, it’s going to happen very simply: one moment at a time. And they believed it. They kept saying “one moment. One moment. One moment.” We gained so much momentum in the second half, thanks to our fans and thanks to our players making plays.”
Things did indeed get better for the Bulldogs in the second half as they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Edwards capped a 6 play, 75-yard drive with a seven-yard TD run to cut the South Carolina lead to 14-10.
Following a punt by the Gamecocks on the following possession, the Bulldogs scored three and a half minutes later on a Dillon Bell three-yard run. It was Bell’s second touchdown in as many games and gave Georgia its first lead of the day at 17-14.
The Bulldogs missed a chance for more points on their next drive as Woodring missed a 43-yard field goal. It was his second miss of the day following a 28 yarder in the first half.
The Georgia defense then bowed up once again forcing another South Carolina punt. The Bulldogs took over at their own 39-yard line and added their final touchdown on a Cash Jones 13-yard run. That gave the Dogs a 24-14 lead that ended up being the final score.
South Carolina had the ball three more times after that but failed to do anything against the Georgia defense with the first of those drives ending on downs and the next two on interceptions by Dan Jackson and Tykee Smith.
“I’m glad we got the ball after halftime so I’m glad the way the offense came out and attacked,” Smith said. “They kind of got some motivation for the defense to go out there and get stops. We’re real proud of the way we came out in the second half and proud of the way we handled adversity.”
The Bulldogs have now won a school record 20 straight games and 32 of their last 33 overall.
Georgia gets back in action next Saturday night against UAB. Kickoff is set for 7:30 as the Bulldogs play their fourth straight home game to start the season.
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