Gamecocks Top Bulldogs, 45-42, In SEC Thriller
South Carolina scored twice off turnovers
ATHENS, Ga. --
Twelfth-ranked South Carolina gained an early advantage in the race to
repeat as Southeastern Conference Eastern Division champions with a
thrilling 45-42 victory over Georgia on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
high-scoring contest went back and forth for most of the night with
seven lead changes, but the Gamecocks took the lead for good in the
fourth quarter behind sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore.
the second straight year, Lattimore came up big against the Bulldogs,
rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. His 3-yard
touchdown run with 3:28 remaining gave the Gamecocks a 38-35 lead they
did not relinquish. Lattimore, who surpassed 100 yards rushing for the
sixth time as a Gamecock, has rushed for 358 yards in two career games
against Georgia. As a team, South Carolina racked up 253 yards on the
"We weren't going to forget about (Lattimore)," said
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier, who moved past Jim Carlen for sole
possession of second place on the all-time wins list at South Carolina
with 46. "He gives us our best chance to win. At the beginning, there
wasn't much room to run there because Georgia's line was able to stuff
us. It opened up some in the second half and he was able to move the
ball. He's a great back and we had to keep going to him. He gives us
hope to make any kind of run."
The Gamecocks improve to 2-0 on
the season and 1-0 in the SEC as they won back-to-back games over
Georgia for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The 87
combined points is the most ever scored between the two schools in the
series, and South Carolina's 45 points are the most it has ever scored
With the loss, Georgia (0-2, 0-1) starts a season with two losses for the first time since 1996.
Carolina built a 10-point lead after Lattimore's late touchdown when
freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sacked Georgia quarterback
Aaron Murray for a 10-yard loss, knocking the ball loose at the Georgia
5. Defensive end Melvin Ingram picked up the fumble and ran it into the
end zone to give the Gamecocks a 45-35 advantage.
made things interesting with a quick score, as Murray connected with
Tavarres King for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 2:15 left to trim
Carolina's lead to 45-42, but Ingram recovered the ensuing onside kick
to seal the win. The onside recovery was Ingram's third big play of the
contest as he also had a 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt to go
along with his fumble recovery for a touchdown.
"This was a good
win for us," Spurrier said. "Give Georgia credit, they outplayed us but
we were fortunate to win. That's how football is sometimes. We had some
big plays and had a few defensive scores, which helped us out a lot. I
think Melvin Ingram deserves a lot of credit for making some huge
plays. He's a heck of an athlete."
South Carolina got off to a
slow start for a second straight week with its offense stalling on its
first two possessions of the game. The Bulldogs took advantage and put
the first points on the board on their second possession. Blair Walsh
capped a six-play, 50-yard drive by drilling a 37-yard field goal to
give Georgia a 3-0 lead at the 5:59 mark of the first quarter.
Walsh's second field goal of the day, a 39-yarder, pushed Georgia's lead to 6-0 with 3:09 left in the first.
their offense struggling, the Gamecocks used a career-long 59-yard punt
by Joey Scribner-Howard with less than 11 minutes left in the second
quarter to pin Georgia at its own 12 to reverse the field position.
Gamecock defense kept the Bulldogs pinned deep with the help of
Clowney's first career sack to force a Georgia punt that gave South
Carolina great field position at its own 47.
After driving to
the Georgia 34, Stephen Garcia scrambled out of the pocket and fired
the ball to Alshon Jeffery in the corner of the end zone for a 34-yard
touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 7-6 lead after Jay Wooten's extra
point. Jeffery finished the game with five receptions for 85 yards and
a touchdown, while Garcia completed 11-of-25 passes for 142 yards, one
touchdown and two interceptions.
Georgia answered on the next
possession with a big play of its own. On third and 5 from the South
Carolina 26, Murray took his time in the pocket and found a wide-open
Rantavious Wooten for a 26-yard scoring strike, as the Bulldogs
regained a 13-7 lead.
But the Gamecocks quieted the crowd on the
ensuing possession with some trickery on fourth down, lining up for a
punt on their own 32-yard-line. The snap went directly to Ingram, who
then rumbled down the sideline for a 68-yard score, as the Gamecocks
went into halftime with a 14-13 lead. The special teams touchdown was
South Carolina's second in as many weeks.
"We had it in the
playbook all year," Ingram said. "We called it a couple times earlier
in the game but it wasn't on so we didn't run it. This is another
stepping stone. We're trying to get better every week."
Bulldogs regained the lead in the third quarter behind freshman running
back Isaiah Crowell. Crowell hauled in a 23-yard pass to move Georgia
deep into Carolina territory and later caught a 17-yard touchdown pass
from Murray to help the Bulldogs take a 20-14 lead.
Georgia's momentum didn't last long, as South Carolina used a pair of
huge defensive plays to build an eight-point lead. On the Bulldogs'
next possession, Crowell fumbled at the South Carolina 39, and Stephon
Gilmore scooped it up and weaved his way 56 yards to the Georgia 5. Two
plays later, Garcia ran it in from 8 yards out, as the Gamecocks took a
The defense continued to come up big for the
Gamecocks. On the ensuing possession, Antonio Allen stepped in front of
a Murray pass and raced 25 yards for a score to give South Carolina a
28-20 lead. Allen has scored a defensive touchdown in his last three
regular season games.
The Bulldogs answered with a 19-yard
touchdown pass from Murray to Michael Bennett and tied the game at 28
with a two-point conversion from Murray to King, but the Gamecocks
regained the lead with a career-long 49-yard field goal by Wooten with
Crowell then pushed Georgia back in front with a
15-yard touchdown run on the next possession, but Lattimore's 3-yard
touchdown run at the 3:28 mark gave South Carolina the lead for good.
was a big drive late in the game and we took back momentum," Jeffery
said. "We never came from behind before, so that was good. To win games
you have to finish in all three phases -- defense, offense and special
Murray completed 19-of-29 passes for 248 yards and four
scores to lead the way for Georgia, while Crowell rushed 16 times for
118 yards and a touchdown.
South Carolina returns to action next
Saturday in its home opener against Navy. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at