COLUMBIA, S.C. — Georgia had two backs rush for more than 100 yards for the first time since 2014, and the Bulldogs held on late for a 28-14 victory over South Carolina that was harder than it should have been. Terry Godwin scooped the Gamecocks’ onside-kick attempt and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to take the mystery out of it. It was Godwin’s first TD of the season.
“We certainly made it more interesting than it needed to be,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
The win came in a game delayed one day because of Hurricane Matthew. It lifts Georgia to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. The Gamecocks fall to 2-4 and 1-4 under first-year coach Will Muschamp.
Here’s how it broke down:
- Star(s) of game: You have to give the nod to Georgia’s entire offensive line for completely dominating South Carolina’s defensive front and giving the Bulldogs’ backs room to run. Both Nick Chubb (121 yards) and Sony Michel (133) went over 100 yards rushing in the third quarter, and Brian Herrien had 82 in the game as Georgia rushed for more than 326 yards as a team, its most this season.
- Turning point: Georgia had been in control throughout, but was in danger of losing it after allowing a South Carolina a 90-yard scoring drive to shrink its lead to 14-7 midway through the third quarter. But after another blank offensive series, punter Marshall Long pinned the Gamecocks at their own 3, then the defense forced a three-and-out. Georgia scored on the ensuing possession, a 7-yard pass from Jacob Eason to Isaiah McKenzie to make the score 21-7.
- Questions answered: Nick Chubb’s ankle is fine. The sophomore tailback started after playing just one play against Tennessee the previous week because of a left-ankle injury. He carried three times for 37 yards on the opening drive and scored on a 15-yard, tackle-breaking run, his first of two touchdowns in the game. He played very little in the fourth quarter.
- Questions looming: How will the short week affect the Bulldogs’ preparations for Vanderbilt next week? Georgia has pushed its schedule back a day. Light practice and no weekly news conference Monday. The Bulldogs will have to cram most of its preparation into the next three days. But the short week is probably coming against the right opponent. Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3 SEC) fell to 0-9 in SEC road games with Saturday’s 20-13 loss at Kentucky.
- Statistically speaking: It was a really rough day for Jacob Eason. The freshman quarterback struggled in the windy conditions, missing open receivers and getting victimized by at least three drops, one by Isaiah McKenzie that could’ve been a touchdown. Eason finished 5-of-17 for 29 yards with a TD and an interception. It was Georgia’s lowest team passing total since 1990.
- What it means: Not much, really. Anybody who watched knows it shouldn’t have been this close of a game. Both Eason and Smart need to make improvements in game management. The good news is they’re both first-year guys, so that undoubtedly will come.