‘UGLY’ WIN IS ’DAWG-GONE PRETTY
South Carolina rides a ferocious defense to its first victory in Athens since 2001
By Joseph PersonATHENS, Ga. —
No gimmicks. No passing touchdowns. No special “ball plays” from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
USC strutted into Sanford Stadium on Saturday and beat No. 11 Georgia at its own game, relying on a stubborn
defense and a power running game for a 16-12 victory that snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs and served notice
that the Gamecocks are serious about contending in the SEC.
Spurrier described the win — USC’s first against
Georgia in six years — as “ugly.”
But the man hired to deliver the Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 in SEC) a
championship will take it.
“First one like that we’ve won since I’ve been here where the defense
pretty much won the game for us,” Spurrier said.
The win was USC’s first against Georgia since a 14-9 victory
in 2001, which also was the last time the Bulldogs were held without a touchdown.
Georgia (1-1, 1-1) represents the
highest-ranked SEC opponent that USC has beaten on the road since joining the conference in 1992.
Spurrier called his
team “a bunch of average stiffs” after its 28-14, opening-week win against Louisiana-Lafayette, in which the Gamecocks
allowed 252 rushing yards.
He was much more kind Saturday.
“We came here thinking we matched up with Georgia
pretty good. We thought we could play defense like we played tonight. Last we didn’t do it very well,” said Spurrier,
whose team was a four-point underdog.
“But this was not a shock to us to win this game. All you people that watch
point spreads, you know it wasn’t any big spread. If you listen to (ESPN analyst Lee) Corso and them guys, you might
think it was supposed to be a lopsided game. But this was two even teams.”
The statistics back that up.
had 21 first downs to Georgia’s 20. The Bulldogs outgained USC 341-314 in total yardage. The Gamecocks held a one-minute,
eight-second edge in time of possession.
But USC came up with more big plays defensively, sacking Georgia quarterback
Matthew Stafford three times and picking him off with six seconds left to snuff out the Bulldogs’ last hope.
kicker Ryan Succop booted field goals of 41, 35 and 34 yards. The last one put the Gamecocks up 16-6 with 9:19 left.
Bulldogs responded by driving inside the Gamecocks’ 22-yard line on their next two possessions. Each time USC held,
forcing Brandon Coutu to kick field goals of 39 and 34 yards to pull Georgia to 16-12 with 4:42 left.
then kept the ball on the ground, letting Cory Boyd and Mike Davis run between the tackles and, in the process, run three
minutes off the clock.
After taking over on its own 20-yard line with 1:20 left, Georgia moved into USC territory on
a 17-yard reception by Mikey Henderson on third-and-10, one of only three third-down conversions (in 18 attempts) for the
But Georgia went backward from there. A block-in-the-black penalty wiped out another long completion on third
down, and a false start backed the Bulldogs to their 39 on third-and-25.
Stafford bought time in the pocket and heaved
a high pass down the right sideline for Mohamed Massaquoi. But cornerback Captain Munnerlyn got a hand on the ball and it
deflected to linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who grabbed it and ran about 20 yards.
After he was tackled in front of the
USC bench, his teammates mobbed him and the celebration could begin.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.