ATHENS, Ga. — The top-ranked Georgia football team had to work for its first Southeastern Conference win of the season, rallying from 14-3 down at halftime to defeat South Carolina, 24-14, on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium
The Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) got three rushing touchdowns in the second half, and its defense ramped up its pressure on quarterback Spencer Rattler to shift the momentum of the game, played in front of another capacity crowd of 92,746.
Quarterback Carson Beck was 13 of 18 for 98 yards in the first half, and finished the game 27 of 35 for 269 yards. The Bulldogs outgained the Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1) 458 to 309 in total yards, including a 189-53 advantage on the ground.
The Bulldogs trailed for the first time this season after just over five minutes Saturday, when the Gamecocks, on third-and-15, finished off a 65-yard drive. Spencer Rattler threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Antwane Wells for a 7-0 lead with 9:56 left in the first quarter.
Georgia was able to cut into the lead on its first drive, which ended with a 31-yard Peyton Woodring field goal with 2:02 remaining in the period. In his first action of the season after missing the first two games with an injury, running back Daijun Edwards started in the backfield and ran the ball on the first two plays and three times on the drive.
Late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs drove deep into Gamecock territory, and had a first-and-goal from the 10, but couldn’t come away with any points after a missed 28-yard field goal attempt with 3:27 left in the half.
South Carolina seized the momentum right before the half with an 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard Dakereon Joyner run with 1:00 on the clock. The Gamecocks led 14-3 at the break.
Georgia received the kickoff to start the second half and went right to work offensively. Powered by a 36-yard completed from Beck to wideout Rara Thomas, followed on the next play by a 15-yard run from Kendall Milton, and then capped by a seven-yard touchdown run by Edwards, Georgia cut the South Carolina lead to 14-10 with 12:20 remaining in the quarter.
The Georgia defense followed that with its best possession of the game, a three-and-out that included a stuffed run, a four-yard sack by defensive end Mykel Williams, and then an incompletion on third-and-long. After the Gamecock punt, Georgia took over at the South Carolina 49 just 80 seconds after Edwards’ touchdown.
Georgia’s offense kept rolling on its second possession of the quarter, marching 49 yards for a 17-14 lead after wideout Dillon Bell’s three-yard touchdown run after lining up in the backfield. On first down at the Gamecock 25, Beck pitched to Edwards for nine yards, then hit receiver Dominic Lovett on the left side for a 14-yard gain to the 3, setting up Bell’s short run.
Early in the fourth quarter, after the Bulldogs had drive down to the South Carolina 16, Georgia came up empty after another drive reached the red zone. A missed 33-yard field goal attempt with 13:45 remaining in the game kept the score 17-14 despite a 366-212 yardage advantage in Georgia’s favor.
A third-and-long pass breakup by safety David Daniel-Sisavanh forced the Gamecocks into another three-and-out. Georgia took over at its 39-yard line, and used a variety of weapons to find the end zone for a 24-14 lead with 9:10 remaining.
On first down, Bell, back in the backfield, ran for eight yards, followed by a four-yarder. Edwards then spotted for 16 yards over three straight carries. Then Beck hit wideout Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for a seven-yard completion, followed by a 13-yarder to tight end Brock Bowers. Running back Cash Jones then closed out the drive with a 13-yard run up the right side for the score.
Safety Dan Jackson helped put the finishing touches on the Georgia win — and second-half shutout — with an interception at the Bulldog 22 with 4:01 left in the game. Smith added another interception, his second in as many games, with 18 seconds left.
After completing 16 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Rattler finished the game 22 of 42 for 256 yards and the two fourth-quarter interceptions.
With the win, the Bulldogs extended a trio of lengthy streaks: Georgia has now won 20 straight games overall, a school-record 30 regular-season games in a row, and this was their 21st straight win on Dooley Field. The two-time defending national champions have now won 32 of their last 33 games.
The Bulldogs will wrap up their four-game homestand to open the season next Saturday night when they take on UAB at 7:30 p.m.