SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Lorenzo Carter ran toward the stands, Davin Bellamy by his side, appropriately, ready to share in the celebration. This was why they came back. This was the game they and Georgia fans had all been waiting for from these two young, potential stars.
This was, quite simply, a career-making game for Carter. The best one in his four years at Georgia, which began with so much hype, 5 stars by his name, but over the last couple of seasons, neither the stats nor difference-making games to match it.
That changed on Saturday night at Notre Dame. In one play, he had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, changing momentum. He clinched the game by recovering a fumble that Bellamy forced with a sack. And in between, Carter, along with Bellamy, had a dominating performance on the edge, disrupting Notre Dame’s offense.
“It’s all coming together,” Carter said. “It’s my senior year. It’s time to do work. And that’s what we do.”
Carter began his career at Georgia looking like he would be a star, racking up 4.5 sacks as a freshman in just part-time duty. But he was held sack-less as a sophomore, playing behind future NFL starters Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. Then, when he was made a full-time starter last season, he and Bellamy each had a so-so 5 sacks.
Sacks are overrated? But by all accounts, Georgia’s two main edge rushers could be more consistent and disruptive.
On Saturday night, they were.
“I thought both of them were more of a factor in this game than they were last year,” coach Kirby Smart said. “I thought that they had impact on the game.”
Carter’s sack-strip-fumble recovery would have been Georgia’s overall highlight of the night, if not for Terry Godwin’s touchdown catch. It was still pretty impressive, and stunted Notre Dame’s momentum, after the Irish had a 13-10 lead and the ball near midfield.
Then, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame needing just a decent drive and a field goal, Georgia’s two outside linebackers one more time converged on quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Bellamy supplied the hit, and Carter scooped up the ball.
Carter was credited with 7 tackles, but there were even more plays where he burst through and forced Wimbush to throw the ball earlier than he wanted, resulting in an incompletion. Bellamy, with 6 tackles, also had a handful of such quarterback hurries.
So much of the focus for Georgia this offseason was on the return of star tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who also spurned the NFL.
But Carter and Bellamy were part of that “coming back to Georgia” news conference, too. They’ve shown, so far, their return was just as important.
“I knew we were making this trip up to South Bend. I had to be a part of it,” Carter said. “Especially the way we finished up last year. I wanted to come back and do something better.”