Sunday, September 14, 2014

Georgia Falls to South Carolina in 35-38 Shootout

The No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs fell to the No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks 35-38 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 84,232 and a nationally televised CBS audience. Georgia drops to 1-1 (0-1) on the season, while South Carolina improves to 2-1 (1-1). The loss moves Georgia to 47-17-2 in the all-time series against the Gamecocks and marks the third straight game in which the Bulldogs have fallen in Columbia. Georgia last won at Williams-Brice in 2008.

Junior tailback Todd Gurley posted his second-straight and 15th career 100-yard rushing game with a 20-attempt, 131-yard rushing effort on the evening. Gurley had a long of 40-yards and found his way into the end zone on a 2-yard run in the third quarter.

Senior quarterback Hutson Mason led the passing attack for Georgia and went 16 of 22 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman running back Sony Michel was on the receiving end of the first touchdown and junior tight end Jay Rome caught the second. Senior Chris Conley led all Bulldog receivers with 4 receptions for 49 yards.

On defense, senior inside linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera led all players with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively. Herrera also recorded the Bulldogs' lone quarterback sack on the evening. In the turnover category, freshman defensive end Lorenzo Carter notched his first career fumble recovery on a Mike Davis fumble in the first quarter, while senior cornerback Damian Swann posted his fifth career interception after picking off South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson in the fourth quarter.

South Carolina received the ball to start the game and embarked on a 9-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson to wide receiver Shaq Roland. Georgia then took just two plays to tie things up 7-7 at the 10:02 mark. Senior quarterback Hutson Mason hit freshman Isaiah McKenzie for a 36-yard gain before finding freshman running back Sony Michel on an underneath route for a 33-yard touchdown.

A South Carolina fumble on the ensuing drive then gifted Georgia possession at the Gamecocks' 26-yard line but the Bulldogs were forced to settle for a 36-yard Marshall Morgan field goal as they took a 10-7 lead midway through the first quarter. The field goal set an SEC record for most consecutive field goals made.

The Bulldogs thought they had forced another turnover on South Carolina's next offensive series, but a Devin Bowman interception was negated by a pass interference call on the third-year defensive back. Thompson found Pharoh Cooper just three plays later for an 8-yard touchdown pass that gave the Gamecocks a 14-10 lead.

Penalties cost Georgia again as a 54-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run on their next drive was cancelled out by a holding call. The Bulldogs were forced to punt and South Carolina took over possession to start the second quarter but went three-and-out before punting the ball back to Georgia.

An unsportsmanlike conduct call on the Gamecocks helped extend the Bulldogs' ensuing drive but a red zone stand by South Carolina's defense forced Georgia to settle for a 26-yard Marshall Morgan field goal.

Up 14-13, Thompson led the Gamecocks on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped-off by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rory Anderson with 5:34 remaining in the first half. After Morgan missed his first field goal in 21 straight attempts on Georgia's next possession, South Carolina moved into field goal range and used a 32-yard kick by Elliott Fry to take a 24-13 lead into the break.

Georgia received to start the second half and used a heavy dose of Gurley to quickly move the ball into South Carolina territory. The junior tailback ripped off a 40-yard run and converted a fourth-and-one before punching the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard rush to cut the Gamecocks' lead to 24-20. The Georgia defense was unable to make a stop on South Carolina's next possession, though, as the Gamecocks' regained their 11-point advantage through a Thompson touchdown run with 5:07 left to play in the third.

After punts by both teams, Georgia moved the ball inside the South Carolina 10-yard line through a pair of 17 and 23-yard runs by Gurley and Nick Chubb, respectively. Mason then found Jay Rome for a 5-yard touchdown pass and used a completion to Michael Bennett on the subsequent two-point conversion to cut the Gamecocks' lead to 31-28 with 14:55 to play.

A long return by Shon Carson on the resulting kickoff set the Gamecocks up at their own 42 to start a touchdown drive that culminated in a 24-yard touchdown run by Brandon Wilds. With South Carolina up 38-28 at the 13:01 mark, the Bulldogs used a series of rushes by Quayvon Hicks to move into opposition territory and cross the goal line from a yard out on their next drive. The 11-play, 75-yard drive took 5:51 off the clock and put the score at 35-38.

The Georgia defense then got the turnover it so desperately needed when Damian Swann picked off Thompson on third-and-ten at the Gamecocks' 24 and returned the interception all the way to the South Carolina 6-yard line. However, the Bulldogs could not capitalize on offense and Morgan missed his potential game-tying kick just inches wide of the upright.

South Carolina then used a key conversion on fourth-and-inches at the 49 yard line to run out the remaining 1:26 of the clock and hold on for the 38-35 win.

The Bulldogs will now return to Athens next weekend to face Troy at Sanford Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST and coverage will air on the SEC Network.

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