It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the (24) South Carolina Gamecocks managed to get a thrilling 38-35 victory over (6) Georgia on Saturday night. A loss would have put a big question mark on the outcome of the SEC East, but the win keeps it very interesting.
The 3:30 p.m. start time was pushed back over an hour and a half due to lightning strikes in the area, but that didn’t slow the Gamecocks down once the game kicked off. The offense looked solid, and the defense put together their best performance of the young season.
The question most Georgia fans will be asking themselves has to be “what was Mark Richt thinking?” The Bulldogs had a first-and-goal from the four-yard line. Everyone in the stadium and watching on television expected to hammer the ball with the terrifying power offense that is Todd Gurley. Instead, Richt decided to put the fate of the game on the arm of Hutson Mason. He was hit with an intentional grounding penalty, backing the Dawgs up to the 14.
Gurley picked up a few yards, and then the third down pass was tipped at the line by J.T. Surratt. The ever-reliable Marshall Morgan, who had his consecutive made field goal streak come to an end at 20 in the first half, missed a 28-yarder. This gave the Gamecocks the ball back with 4:24 left. The Gamecocks were able to run out the clock, but not before sneaking it with Dylan Thompson on fourth-and-one at midfield. The chains came out and the spot was measured, resulting in a first down for the Gamecocks by about an inch.
The Gamecock offense played a good game. Dylan Thompson has been waiting four years behind Gamecock folk-hero Connor Shaw to start and lead his team to an SEC victory. He ended the day 21-30 for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He found Shaq Roland to start off the scoring, then found Pharoh Cooper and Rory Anderson all before halftime.
Most of Thompson’s damage was done in the first half (240 yards, three touchdowns), as the two touchdowns in the second half came off of running plays. The rushing game was strong, with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds split time in the backfield, combining for 159 yards and a score, including Wilds breaking a 24-yard to cap off a four play, 58-yard drive to open up the fourth quarter.
The much-improved defense was able to put together some huge stops, and allowed a season-low 408 yards. They were able to hold superstar running back Todd Gurley to 131-yards and a touchdown. He had a 54-yard run called back due to a penalty in the first half. It looked effortless for much of the night for Gurley. He can flat out run the football.
With the thrilling victory in Columbia, the Gamecocks move to 2-1, 1-1 SEC. Georgia falls to 1-1, 0-1 SEC. This should stir up the rankings in the Top-25, as the Gamecocks should climb a good amount after East Carolina topped (17) Virginia Tech.
The Gamecocks played their most complete game of the season, and it will be interesting (as usual) how the SEC East race plays out.
*Section Photo credit to Stacy Revere/Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to AJ Reynolds/OnlineAthens