Georgia tops South Carolina, 45-16
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Georgia tops South Carolina, 45-16

UGA Football
Photo: Travis Bell/UGA

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-2, 6-2 SEC) rode their stout run game to a decisive 45-16 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-7, 2-7 SEC) Saturday evening in front of 16,444 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium and an SEC Network primetime television audience.

The Georgia offense posted a season-high 471 yards, including a season-high 332 rushing yards for an average of 7.2 yards per rush. Junior tailback James Cook led the Bulldogs’ runners with a career-high 104 yards on six carries and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore Zamir White tallied 84 yards on 13 rushes with a pair of touchdowns.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 10-for-16 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman wide receiver Jermaine Burton led for the second-consecutive week with three receptions for 33 yards.

On the defensive front, the Bulldogs held the Gamecocks to just 273 yards of total offense, including only 83 on the ground. The Bulldogs also racked up four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Sophomore free safety Lewis Cine led all tacklers with a career-high 12 solo stops, while junior linebacker Quay Walker tied his personal best with seven tackles.

“They did what we asked them to do,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “They played really physical. They came out with an opening drive and ran it down their throats. I was very pleased with the play of the offensive line, in terms of getting movement. It’s what you’ve got to be able to do in this league.”

After receiving the opening kickoff, Georgia broke into the South Carolina red zone with a 40-yard completion from Daniels to graduate tight end Tre’ McKitty on third-and-1, leading to McKitty reaching for the pylon on a 6-yard catch-and-run touchdown three plays later. The score was McKitty’s first as a Bulldog and capped off a 7-play, 65-yard drive.

Following a Gamecock punt, the Bulldogs once again used explosive plays to cross midfield as Cook rushed for 44 yards on the second play of the possession and Daniels found sophomore wideout George Pickens for a 17-yard catch. Cook then closed out the 9-play, 82-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown rush. On the ensuing Georgia drive, White extended the early lead to 21-0 with a 22-yard touchdown run, set up by a 32-yard rush by sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh.

South Carolina finally broke onto the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown carry by running back Kevin Harris, before adding a 39-yard field goal on its next drive, narrowing the margin to 21-10 midway through the second quarter. Unfazed by the scoring burst, the Bulldogs remained strong on the ground, culminating in Cook busting straight through the line for a 29-yard touchdown that wrapped a 7-play, 65-yard sequence.

In need of a score before halftime, the Gamecocks methodically moved into Bulldog territory, highlighted by a fourth down conversion at their own 34-yard line, but they were unable to capitalize as placekicker Parker White missed from 53 yards out with 25 seconds remaining in the half. Georgia attempted to quickly add an extra score before heading to the locker room, but Daniels was intercepted for the first time in his Bulldog career.

After South Carolina went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson returned a punt 52 yards to the Gamecock 13-yard line, leading to a quick 3-yard touchdown run from White two plays later. On their next drive, the Bulldogs appeared to add another touchdown from freshman tailback Daijun Edwards, but a penalty negated the score and they would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore placekicker Jack Podlesny.

Following junior cornerback Tyson Campbell’s first career interception and subsequent 40-yard return, Georgia opened the fourth quarter impressively as Daniels connected with freshman wideout Arian Smith on a 31-yard touchdown, the first of Smith’s career.

South Carolina responded with its longest drive of the night, closing out with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Luke Doty to Nick Muse, but the ensuing extra point was blocked by freshman lineman Jalen Carter, bringing the score to its final tally of 45-16. The Bulldogs would run out the last nine minutes of the game with a 13-play drive to the Gamecock 1-yard line, including 11 rushes from Edwards.

Georgia returns home next weekend to Athens for its final home contest of the 2020 season. The Bulldogs will play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-8, 0-8 SEC) on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The start time and television network will be announced by the SEC on Monday.

POST-GAME NOTES

*Piling Up The Points: Georgia posted a 45-16 victory, and that was the most the Bulldogs have ever scored in Columbia, eclipsing the 41 in a win in 2018.  The Bulldogs finished with 471 yards of total offense including 332 on the ground. The leading rusher was junior James Cook with a career-high 104 yards and 2 TDs.

Georgia utilized their ground game to build a 28-10 halftime lead. Georgia scored 21 points in the first quarter, tallying 225 yards of total offense including 151 on the ground. The 28 points in the first half was the most in a first half since scoring 34 against Arkansas State last year. The Bulldogs finished the first half with 295 total yards. Redshirt sophomore QB JT Daniels finished the game 10-for-16 for 139 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. He led Georgia to touchdowns on its first three possession and four of the first five in the contest.

*Huge Night In The Running Game:  The Bulldogs tallied a season-high 332 yards on the ground on 46 attempts for a 7.2 average and four TDs. It was the first 300+ yard rushing attack since going for 323 against Vanderbilt last year and the most since getting 426 against UMass in 2018. Georgia churned out 208 rushing yards on 23 attempts in the first half alone. Junior James Cook had a career-long 44-yard scamper in the first quarter and a five-yard TD, his first score on the ground. He picked up his second score in the second quarter, a 29-yarder. Cook finished the game with a career-high 104 yards on just six carries. Redshirt sophomore Zamir White ended up with 84 yards on 13 carries and two TDs.

*A Look At The Defense:  Coming in tonight, Georgia ranked second in the SEC in Scoring Defense (21.3 points per game). In the first half, USC tallied 10 points on 156 yards of total offense and then managed just six points in the second half and finished with 273 total yards. Georgia’s leading tackler was sophomore DB Lewis Cine with a career-high 12, all solo stops! Junior Azeez Ojulari ended the first half with a sack as he leads the squad and ranks second in the SEC now with 5.5.

In the second half, Jermaine Johnson collected his fifth sack of the year while junior Channing Tindall got his third and junior Adam Anderson picked up one to give him 4.5 this season. Coming in tonight, Georgia ranked second in the SEC with 20 sacks and had four tonight. Junior Tyson Campbell got his first career interception and returned it 40 yards. It was the team’s eighth INT, which matched last year’s total.

*Receiving Leaders:  Graduate TE Tré McKitty had two catches for 46 yards, the first covered 40 yards, a career-long at Georgia, and his next resulted in his first TD as a Bulldog, a six-yarder on 3rd-and goal. Freshman Arian Smith had a 31-yard TD reception for his first career catch. He is the first Bulldog to score on his first touch since Demetris Robertson scored on a 72-yard run against Austin Peay in 2018. The leading receiver tonight was freshman Jermaine Burton with three for 33 yards.

*Special Teams Summary: Redshirt sophomore PK Jack Podlesny went 6-for-6 in PATs plus made a 32-yard field goal. Georgia has made an NCAA record 322 consecutive PATs as the streak includes six kickers dating back to 2014. For the season, Podlesny is 10-for-12 in field goals.
Junior punter Jake Camarda finished with one punt for 50 yards. Coming in, he ranked third in the country with a 47.7 avg. Also, he handled the kickoffs. Redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson had two kickoff returns for 62 yards plus two punt returns for 55 yards. One of the punt returns covered 52 yards and gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 13 and an eventual TD. Freshman Jalen Carter blocked a PAT, the first Bulldog to do that since 2015 when Sterling Bailey did it against Florida.

*Series History: With the 45-16 win, Georgia now leads the all-time series 52-19-2 including winning five of the last six. Tonight, Kirby Smart won his 50th game as the Bulldogs coach. He is 50-14 in this his fifth season including 4-1 against the Gamecocks.

*For Starters:  The longest active starting streak on offense belongs to center Trey Hill now with 26 while the longest streak on defense belongs to junior DB Eric Stokes at 23.

*The Captains: Redshirt sophomores Azeez Ojulari, and Zamir White along with junior Channing Tindall (a native of Columbia, S.C.) served as the captains. It was the second straight week that Ojulari was a captain, a first for the Bulldogs this year. Ojulari, senior Monty Rice and junior Jamaree Salyer each have been a game captain a team-high three times this year.  USC won the toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half.

*Up Next: Georgia (6-2) will play host to Vanderbilt (0-8) on Saturday, Dec. 5. Game time is TBA. Earlier today, the Commodores fell to Missouri 41-0 in Columbia.

POST-GAME QUOTES

HEAD COACH KIRBY SMART

Opening statement…
“I’m really proud of our guys. I don’t know if really anybody understands the college football environment this year. It is just so different, 2020 has been so different in terms of motivation. These kids sacrifice a lot to have this season. They don’t get to go and do things they normally do. The season has really been long and all across college football with the injuries, COVID concerns and cancellations it has been a really unique year. I just want to give our kids a lot of credit for sticking through it, staying together and continuing to fight. You talk to coaches across the country and they are having trouble trying to keep kids playing football. This group has really stuck together, and I want to give them a lot of credit for that.”

On how they were effective offensively against South Carolina…
“Let’s be honest, a lot of it has a lot to do with the other team and what they do. So we didn’t call a lot of different runs, we didn’t go out and reinvent the wheel to run the ball. We played a team that had three or four guys out. They had some COVID issues and a couple other injuries that probably hurt their depth. They are a very beat-up football team, and they are probably just not as stout as Mississippi State is up front. With that said, our guys came out from the very beginning and they knew that South Carolina had some guys out and they didn’t play down to that level. They played physical and they knocked people off the ball.”

On playing some other players late in the game…
“It’s so unfortunate that you don’t get a chance to do that but that’s the world we live in. The conference schedule has made it tough and our inability to get a big lead has made it tough. I was proud of those guys; I certainly wish we could play them more. That’s what kids do, they come to Georgia to play in the games. The games we’ve been in, we haven’t been able to do that.

On J.T. Daniels overall performance…
“I thought he did a good job. He took the things that the defense gave to him. He made some good throws, and he understands protections. He knows what coverage they are in and he did what we asked him to do. I thought the one ball on the wheel route down our sideline was the one I wish he could have back because he underthrew it a little bit, but I thought he played well. He understands what we are trying to do, and he did a good job handling the offense.

JUNIOR RB JAMES COOK

On why they were able to run the ball effectively tonight…
“My offensive line gave me a lane to run tonight. They play with great physicality. Heads up to my offensive line, they just did a great job.”

On how many carries he gets each game…
“Every opportunity that I get, I take advantage of it. I just want to make the most of it.”

On if last week’s passing performance opened the running game this week…
“We got after it in the passing game [last week] and they probably thought we were just going to pass it today. Then our offensive line came with that physicality today and our receivers blocked on the perimeter and we got the job done.”

SOPHOMORE LEWIS CINE

On his thoughts on the defensive performance…
“We knew what they were going to try and do from watching film on them. What they do well is run and their running backs are really good. They have some really good backs. The goal was to stop them and try and make them one dimensional. Yeah, we missed some opportunities, but I feel like we did make them one dimensional towards the end.”

On giving up points in the second quarter…
“I feel like [on the touchdown drive] we didn’t play to our standard, not one bit. I think it was a 90-yard drive. We weren’t tackling well and not covering the way we were supposed to. We can’t let that happen in the future.”

On Luke Doty and his performance…
“We knew what he brought for their offense. He’s a fast guy and he can throw. Yeah, he is a freshman, but he can also play. We watched a lot of film on him and we found ways we could disrupt him and make him feel uncomfortable. I feel like for his second game, he did really good.”

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