No. 3 Georgia turns road test into rout of No. 24 Gamecocks
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm knew the third-ranked Bulldogs were built to last after their run to last season’s national title game. He believes the rest of the country found that out Saturday.
Fromm threw for 194 yards and a touchdown, all three of Georgia’s latest running combo scored touchdowns and the Bulldogs turned an expected Southeastern Conference showdown into a 41-17 rout over No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.
“We weren’t going anywhere,” Fromm said. “We’ve worked too hard to stay where we are.”
That was evident at Williams-Brice Stadium, where Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) used dominating offense and suffocating defense to win its fourth straight over the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1).
“We thought if we were able to run the ball and pound it early, it would take its toll,” coach Kirby Smart said.
Fromm was 15-of-18 passing, including a 34-yard TD pass to Mecole Hardman. D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien looked every bit as effective as NFL runners Nick Chubb and Sony Michel did a year ago in leading Georgia to the College Football Playoff.
Holyfield led the way with 76 yards and a 5-yard score. Swift had a 17-yard TD run, and Herrien piled on with a 15-yard scoring burst in the third quarter as Georgia went up by 31 points. That’s when many in the crowd of 83,140 began to file out in disappointment — a familiar ritual against the Bulldogs.
Cornerback Deandre Baker set the tone on defense early with an interception off a tipped ball in the opening minute that led to a quick, if unconventional, touchdown. Baker let the ball loose before crossing the goal line, but teammate Juwan Taylor picked it up and took it the final yard to complete the 56-yard play.
Baker did not initially realize he came up short. “I just hoped someone on my team picked it up,” he said, smiling.
From there, Georgia’s defense and run game took over — as they have so often against South Carolina. The Bulldogs outrushed South Carolina 271 yards to 54.
When South Carolina had a chance to tie it after Rashad Fenton’s interception deep in Georgia territory, the Bulldogs allowed just a yard on the next four plays. They took over on downs after Bentley’s fourth-down incompletion.
“That was big,” Smart said. “We always talk about putting out the fire on defense after a turnover.”
Georgia rarely let up. South Carolina drove 70 yards to the Bulldogs’ 5 in the fourth quarter before safety J.R. Reed’s end-zone interception.
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 269 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp was disappointed, especially at his team’s third quarter when Georgia outscored South Carolina 21-0.
“We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us. The big thing you do, we’ve got to be technical. Starting with me,” Muschamp said.
Georgia: With its first significant test complete, Georgia again looks like the class of the SEC East and a likely participant in the league’s title game. The Bulldogs’ most challenging league games are against West opponents — at LSU on Oct. 13 and against Auburn on Nov. 11.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks hoped a strong showing against Georgia would prove they belonged near the top of the SEC. South Carolina will try to regroup against Marshall at home before resuming SEC play.
Georgia strengthened its spot in the polls by easily putting away a ranked opponent. South Carolina’s first stay in the polls since September of 2014 will be a short one.
South Carolina defensive end D.J. Wonnum did not play because of an ankle injury sustained against Coastal Carolina last week. Wonnum was in sweats and had his leg elevated on a scooter during pre-game warmups.
Georgia returns home to face Middle Tennessee next week.
South Carolina plays its third straight home game to start the season when Marshall comes to town next week.