South Carolina’s inability to get off the field on third down or tackle Georgia’s running backs became their undoing in a 24-10 defeat in front of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
South Carolina pushed Georgia as much as any team in SEC play has this season, trailing by just a touchdown at halftime and by 11 points going into the 4th Quarter.
The Gamecocks made momentum plays to help their cause, including a forced fumble on Georgia’s first offensive drive, but failed to capitalize on the Bulldogs’ mistakes.
Georgia’s running game, a signature staple of their 9-0 record, once again proved supreme with 242 yards from the Bulldogs on the ground. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm, who Gamecock DB Chris Lammons said earlier in the week “could not pass”, completed 16-of-22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
The Gamecocks’ lone touchdown capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard pass to from Jake Bentley to Bryan Edwards that needed video replay to uphold. Georgia responded with a highlight-reel play of its own as Javon Wims pulled one in from 10 yards out against the far boundary of the end zone.
Bentley and Edwards spoke after the game about how the offense was efficient at times, but not enough to win:
Jake Bentley and Bryan Edwards
South Carolina allowed Georgia to go 8-of-13 on third down, a problem that continues to hound the Gamecocks defense.
USC ranked 101st in the FBS in defensive third down efficiency, allowing opponents a 44% third down conversion rate.
Only Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas rank worse in that category.
The Gamecocks used some trickery in the game, with Hayden Hurst faking a punt pass to Skai Moore, a play that resulted in penalty-driven first down for USC.
Both Hurst and Moore said it was hard to draw positives from the win, but that this team did not allow the road atmosphere to beat them:
Hayden Hurst and Skai Moore
A key stretch in the game came at the end of the first half, when Will Muschamp failed to call timeout after a third-down defensive stop. Precious time came off the clock, giving the Gamecocks just 54 seconds to work with and all three timeouts.
Muschamp said after the game that South Carolina saw a “dig and go” route for Edwards with Georgia’s that they believed could hit for a big play. Edwards beat his man, but Bentley was hit as threw and was intercepted. Georgia ended the half with a failed Hail Mary attempt.
The Gamecocks’ coach spoke after the game in a prideful manner regarding his team, but mindful of the errors that held them back:
Will Palaszczuk provided his thoughts with his postgame Periscope report:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) November 4, 2017
South Carolina (6-3, 4-3) looks to rebound at home next Saturday when they host Florida at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12 noon, and the game can be seen on CBS.