Georgia Tops South Carolina, 45-16
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, 6-2 SEC) rode their stout run game to a decisive 45-16 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-7, 2-7 SEC) Saturday evening in front of 16,444 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium and an SEC Network primetime television audience.
The Georgia offense posted a season-high 471 yards, including a season-high 332 rushing yards for an average of 7.2 yards per rush. Junior tailback James Cook led the Bulldogs’ runners with a career-high 104 yards on six carries and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore Zamir White tallied 84 yards on 13 rushes with a pair of touchdowns.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 10-for-16 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman wide receiver Jermaine Burton led for the second-consecutive week with three receptions for 33 yards.
On the defensive front, the Bulldogs held the Gamecocks to just 273 yards of total offense, including only 83 on the ground. The Bulldogs also racked up four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Sophomore free safety Lewis Cine led all tacklers with a career-high 12 solo stops, while junior linebacker Quay Walker tied his personal best with seven tackles.
“They did what we asked them to do,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “They played really physical. They came out with an opening drive and ran it down their throats. I was very pleased with the play of the offensive line, in terms of getting movement. It’s what you’ve got to be able to do in this league.”
After receiving the opening kickoff, Georgia broke into the South Carolina red zone with a 40-yard completion from Daniels to graduate tight end Tre’ McKitty on third-and-1, leading to McKitty reaching for the pylon on a 6-yard catch-and-run touchdown three plays later. The score was McKitty’s first as a Bulldog and capped off a 7-play, 65-yard drive.
Following a Gamecock punt, the Bulldogs once again used explosive plays to cross midfield as Cook rushed for 44 yards on the second play of the possession and Daniels found sophomore wideout George Pickens for a 17-yard catch. Cook then closed out the 9-play, 82-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown rush. On the ensuing Georgia drive, White extended the early lead to 21-0 with a 22-yard touchdown run, set up by a 32-yard rush by sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh.
South Carolina finally broke onto the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown carry by running back Kevin Harris, before adding a 39-yard field goal on its next drive, narrowing the margin to 21-10 midway through the second quarter. Unfazed by the scoring burst, the Bulldogs remained strong on the ground, culminating in Cook busting straight through the line for a 29-yard touchdown that wrapped a 7-play, 65-yard sequence.
In need of a score before halftime, the Gamecocks methodically moved into Bulldog territory, highlighted by a fourth down conversion at their own 34-yard line, but they were unable to capitalize as placekicker Parker White missed from 53 yards out with 25 seconds remaining in the half. Georgia attempted to quickly add an extra score before heading to the locker room, but Daniels was intercepted for the first time in his Bulldog career.
After South Carolina went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson returned a punt 52 yards to the Gamecock 13-yard line, leading to a quick 3-yard touchdown run from White two plays later. On their next drive, the Bulldogs appeared to add another touchdown from freshman tailback Daijun Edwards, but a penalty negated the score and they would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore placekicker Jack Podlesny.
Following junior cornerback Tyson Campbell’s first career interception and subsequent 40-yard return, Georgia opened the fourth quarter impressively as Daniels connected with freshman wideout Arian Smith on a 31-yard touchdown, the first of Smith’s career.
South Carolina responded with its longest drive of the night, closing out with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Luke Doty to Nick Muse, but the ensuing extra point was blocked by freshman lineman Jalen Carter, bringing the score to its final tally of 45-16. The Bulldogs would run out the last nine minutes of the game with a 13-play drive to the Gamecock 1-yard line, including 11 rushes from Edwards.
Georgia returns home next weekend to Athens for its final home contest of the 2020 season. The Bulldogs will play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-8, 0-8 SEC) on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The start time and television network will be announced by the SEC on Monday.