COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 3-ranked Georgia Bulldogs cleared their first major hurdle of the 2018 season and got a leg up in the SEC East with an impressive 41-17 road win over South Carolina on Saturday.
The win was the Bulldogs’ second in a row at Williams-Brice Stadium, a notoriously tough venue where Georgia had lost three in a row before winning here in 2016, Kirby Smart’s first year. Meanwhile, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp fell to 1-6 against his alma mater.
Saturday’s top-25 matchup gave the CBS national television audience a pretty good show right up until intermission. But the Bulldogs got a 44-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship at the halftime buzzer for a 20-10 lead, then turned on their jets in the second half to put away the game.
One of those jets was wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who took a 10-yard sideline route from quarterback Jake Fromm and turned it into a 34-yard touchdown. Hardman also had a 30-yard run in the game that set up Georgia’s first score of the day and, with six catches for 103 yards, went over 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career.
The Bulldogs came right back with a 6-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Elijah Holyfield. That was followed by a 9-play, 86-yard possession that ended with Brian Herrien’s 15-yard score.
And with that unanswered 24-point run, the Bulldogs led 41-10 and were in full control of the outcome.
By the time the starters left the game at the end of the third quarter, Georgia had more than 400 yards of offense. Fromm was 15-of-18 passing for 194 yards but threw his first interception of the season. Holyfield led the backs with 76 yards on nine carries, and D’Andre Swift added 67 yards on 12 carries and also scored a touchdown.
Georgia cornerback D’Andre Baker had a great day defending South Carolina’s ballyhooed wideout Deebo Samuel with two pass breakups and what should have been a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown. But replays showed Baker dropped the ball before crossing the plane of the South Carolina end zone, and Juwan Taylor was credited for the score after picking it up and running it in from a yard out.
The only downer of the day for the Dogs was an injury to left tackle Andrew Thomas. The sophomore from Lithonia had to be helped off the field with a left ankle injury after Georgia’s first play of the third quarter. Freshman Cade Mays entered the game and played the rest of the way. Thomas’ status for next week’s game against Middle Tennessee State is unknown.