Gamecocks shock Georgia, 21-10

COLUMBIA, S.C.-In one of their worst overall performances in modern history, the tenth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs lost 21-10 last Saturday to an upstart South Carolina team.

The game was played before a crowd of 83,605, the second largest in Gamecocks' history.

The victory marked South Carolina's first against a top-10 team in nearly 12 years. The Gamecocks beat No. 6 Georgia here on September 24, 1988 (23-10) for their last triumph over a top-10 opponent. It was also South Carolina's first Southeastern Conference win in 19 games dating back to a 1997 win over Vanderbilt.
The Gamecocks, picked to be the worst team in the SEC, used an effective offense and an aggressive defense that tore apart Georgia's offense to win their second straight game after ending a 21-game losing streak last week against New Mexico State.

South Carolina (2-0 overall; 1-0 conference) played almost flawlessly to dampen Georgia's National Championship and SEC Title hopes. The Gamecocks committed just one penalty and didn't turn the ball over. South Carolina kept the Bulldogs' offense off the field by dominating the time of possession, 36:07 to 23:53. The Gamecocks held the ball for 12:25 of the third quarter alone.

Georgia (1-1 overall; 0-1 conference) managed just 202 yards of offense-and 128 of those came on the team's first two drives. The Bulldogs were held to 83 yards the rest of the way, and had only 12 yards rushing the entire second half. They went 37 minutes from the second to the fourth quarter without gaining a first down. Georgia only converted 3-of-11 third-down attempts and failed on its only fourth-down attempt.

Defensively, the Bulldogs held South Carolina to 287 yards. The biggest obstacle they faced was USC starting drives in Bulldog territory.

Georgia's defense did played better than its offense. However, the Bulldogs' stop force missed numerous tackles and never adjusted when South Carolina sent out three or four receivers. The Bulldogs' cornerbacks played about eight yards away from the line. Gamecock quarterback Phil Petty was able to complete short, quick passes and his receivers often gained yards after the catch. Georgia's highly regarded front four was unable to pressure Petty into making hurried decisions, sacking him only twice. 

Georgia's Heisman-trophy candidate Quincy Carter threw five interceptions-including two on first down-in front of a national TV audience to greatly damage his chances of winning the award as the top college player. Carter only threw six interceptions the entire 1999 season.

The USC defense hurried and harassed Carter into a 10-of-24 passing day for 108 yards, his third-worst day at Georgia. He only gained 2 yards rushing on four carries.

Carter repeatedly overthrew open receivers and repeatedly threw to well-covered receivers he somehow thought were open. He went more than 15 minutes without a completion during one stretch of the game.

"Obviously, we have some real problems offensively," Georgia coach Jim Donnan said. "From my standpoint, this is a real letdown. When you have five turnovers, you're not going to win many games. I give Carolina credit for its performance today."

Georgia opened the game with a 10-play, 74-yard drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Brett Millican. Brett Kirouac kicked the extra point to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead at the 10:37 mark of the first period.

But the Bulldogs folded thereafter. They managed just one first down in their next eight possessions.

Sophomore running back Derek Watson, who finished with 93 yards on 20 carries, scored all three South Carolina touchdowns. He capped the Gamecocks' opening drive with a five-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the opening quarter. Reid Bethea added the PAT to knot the score at 7-7. 

Carter tried to answer but was intercepted at the Gamecocks' 26 by cornerback Andre Goodman, who returned the ball 70 yards to the Georgia 4. Carter used his speed and agility to catch Goodman, but then compounded his mistake when he was penalized for throwing Goodman to the ground out of bounds. Watson went in from two yards out and Bethea tacked on the point-after to make it 14-7 with 3:15 remaining in the opening quarter. 

Brett Kirouac kicked a 21-yard field goal with 2:46 remaining in the second period to pull Georgia within 14-10 at the half.

The game's most crucial sequence came midway through the fourth quarter. Instead of attempting a 37-yard field goal, Donnan left his offense on the field. Carter avoided a sack by spinning to his left, but his pass to tight end Jevaris Johnson sailed out of bounds.

The Bulldogs trailed 14-10 with 6:49 left and took possession at their own 20-yard line after a South Carolina punt, but Rashad Faison intercepted a Carter pass on the first play of Georgia's drive.

The Gamecocks scored six plays later when Watson took a 21-yard draw play into the end zone on third-and-9 to put the Bulldogs away. Bethea added the PAT.

Watson had one fewer yard rushing than Georgia's team. Jasper Sanks was the Bulldogs' leading rusher with 65 yards.

Petty was 18-of-28 for 154 yards with one interception. He completed ten straight passes to start the second half. Gamecock wide receiver Randy Brewer caught five passes for 41 yards.

Linebacker Dennis Quinn had two interceptions for the Gamecocks.

Bulldogs defensive end Josh Mallard tied current wrestling star Bill Goldberg for ninth place on the school's all-time sack list with 12. 

Mallard sacked Petty for a 9-yard loss late in the second quarter. Up next for Mallard are former defensive end Phillip Daniels and rover Bill Krug, who are tied for seventh with 13. 

Richard Tardits has the all-time record with 29. 

"South Carolina came out with a great game plan and just whipped us," Georgia linebacker Charles Grant said. "We did the best we could do. Things didn't go our way today, so we have to hope they go our way the rest of the season.

"This doesn't ruin our season. We still have Florida and Tennessee. The SEC championship is open all day, every day."

Georgia hosts New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs' next SEC game is Sept. 30 at Arkansas.

Dawg Post Top Stories