Georgia @ South Carolina Recap
This was certainly the marquee game in the realm of college football. Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldog’s faced “The Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks. The game featured a very intriguing battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. The game lived up to the billing. With stars all over the field including defensive end Jadaveon Clowney and Todd Gurley II it was a game filled with big plays.
Early in the first half it looked like Georgia might be unstoppable. The Bulldogs took a 17-3 lead. Aaron Murray was sharp and the running game was powerful. The defense had gotten the best of Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw in the first quarter. Shaw struggled to find a rhythm early. On one pivotal play the South Carolina offensive line picked up a blitz up the middle, but Shaw failed to get rid of the football and was sacked. The Gamecocks went on to punt two plays later and Georgia would score on the subsequent drive.
The game’s momentum flipped after a special teams blunder set up South Carolina for a touchdown that tied the game 17-17. It could have been a dominant first half for Georgia but it turned into an even and gritty game. Both quarterbacks played well and found confidence in the first half. Their statistics were almost identical. Aaron Murray went 10-13 for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Connor Shaw was 9-13 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
South Carolina was the team that came out sharp in the second half. Their first drive of the second half was becoming a thing of beauty. That is until Shaw fumbled after what would have been an impressive first down run. Georgia went on to score a field goal and they would keep momentum to get a 10 point lead.
The Gamecocks would find the magic back in their offensive attack and they marched to another touchdown. They missed the PAT because of a bad snap and hold and were four points down. This was a very costly point not to have, making the deficit more than a field goal.
Murray struck gold on the next drive. He rolled out of the pocket and found receiver Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85 yard touchdown. The Gamecocks now trailed 41-30. They were now down 11 points instead of a touchdown, PAT and a field goal. South Carolina went right down the field. On 4th and goal Steve Spurrier decided to go for the touchdown instead of kicking the field goal and did not convert. This was the defining moment of the game. The Georgia defense seemed completely worn down making Spurrier’s decision seem like a well calculated risk. Georgia stuffed an option play and their home crowd erupted in jubilation.
Georgia’s next drive began extra close to their own end zone thanks to a moronic personal foul by a Georgia linebacker. The mistake was compounded by a false start. But on second down a play action pass by Murray to his full back Hicks gave Georgia a first down. With an 11 point lead the Bulldogs began to work the clock with their dominant running game. Each first down felt like a death sentence to the chances of South Carolina. The game was just about over when on a 4th & 2 with a little over two minutes left Todd Gurley picked up a first down on a toss play.
It was a great game and the better team won. Georgia played a more complete game. They played a near flawless game offensively with no turnovers. They made a strong statement with a goal line stand on defense. When Aaron Murray has a great game and their running game is this strong this team is almost impossible to beat. Georgia got a much needed win against a team that had owned them in the Murray era. Their season goals were all on the line against a great team, and they stepped up to the challenge.