ATHENS — Georgia All-American kicker Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t given a chance to win the game in regulation, but he was provided a chance to lose it in overtime.
That’s exactly what happened in South Carolina’s 20-17 double-OT win over the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Gamecocks kicked a field goal to grab a 20-17 lead in the second overtime. When it was Georgia’s turn, the offense stalled and Blankenship was under pressure to make a 42-yard field goal or the game would be over.
Blankenship’s kick went wide let, and the South Carolina players stormed the field. The Gamecocks were a three-touchdown underdog entering the day that had just shocked the college football world.
Georgia’s senior kicker was among the first of the players to emerge from the locker room, standing tall and answering every question.
“I need to go back in the film room and see what happened on it,” Blankenship said, asked about the missed kick in overtime. “I just need to get back into film and see what happened on it, get a closer look, and get a second opinion.”
Blankenship entered the South Carolina game 11-for-11 on field goals. He was 12-for-12 after nailing a 50-yarder to give Georgia a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.
Blankenship lined up to attempt a 53-yard field goal right before halftime, but Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp called two timeouts to ice him. Blankenship’s attempt was subsequently blocked by D.J. Wonnum.
“I don’t know, I need to get in the film room an watch it, initially it felt like I hit a really good ball, but it didn’t get past the line of scrimmage,” Blankenship said of the block. “It might have been me, I might not have hit it high enough.”
Blankenship, like QB Jake Fromm, stayed even-keeled through it all.
“At the end of the day, you have to treat every kick the exact same way, no matter what distance, no matter what point in the game it is,” Blankenship said. “Just try to hit everything the exact same way. If it goes through the posts, you’ve done your job.”
Blankenship said his teammates offered support, as usual.
“They’ve got my back no matter what happens,” Blankenship said. “They’ve got my back, and they’re going to support me through and through.”
Coach Kirby Smart is behind him, too.
“We’ll continue to show confidence in Hot Rod, he’s a worker, we believe in him, he’s meant so much to us, he’s give us so much,” Smart said. “But it’s tough. Their kicker missed one, too. It’s tough. But in that environment, you’ve got to be able to make those field goals. Rod knows that.
“We support him, we love him. There’s other games we wouldn’t have won without him.”
The Bulldogs had gotten into Blankenship’s range on the final drive — typically 55 yards.
But an illegal shift penalty, one of several offensive mistakes on the day, moved UGA back 5 yards.
Smart elected not to allow Blankenship to attempt what would have been a game-winning 60-yard field goal.
Blankenship’s career-long field goal is 55 yards vs. Oklahoma in the 2018 Rose Bowl.