7:08 PM ET, October 6, 2012
Williams-Brice Stadium, COLUMBIA, SC
Connor Shaw solid as South Carolina squashes Georgia to stay unbeaten
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In a career of special moments, Steve Spurrier added another one in South Carolina's 35-7 victory over fifth-ranked Georgia on Saturday night. And there may be some even bigger ones ahead for the Gamecocks and their ball coach.
"If we play like this, maybe we have a chance for a real big year," Spurrier said. "Maybe."
Spurrier's caution is well placed. After all, this is the Southeastern Conference.
More On The Game
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The Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0 SEC) head to angry LSU, the defending league champions who lost for the first time earlier Saturday, next week, then go to Florida -- the undefeated Gators beat LSU -- for a game that should decide the Eastern Division.
South Carolina sure looks ready for the challenge.
"We definitely sent a message out to the whole country," Gamecocks tailback Marcus Lattimore said. "It's not the old South Carolina. We can play with y'all. We can play with anybody."
The Gamecocks won their school-record 10th straight game with a performance that certainly marked them an Eastern Division frontrunner -- and maybe showed they're capable of even more.
"This was a special one," said Spurrier, who has a national title on his impressive resume from his time with Florida. "It really was."
South Carolina grounded "Gurshall," holding Georgia's stellar freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to 76 yards combined. The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1) finished with 224 yards, less than half their season's average coming in.
Gamecocks More Than Game
South Carolina and Georgia have met 65 times dating back to 1894 and Saturday's victory marked the largest win by the Gamecocks in the series.
"First of all, the bad news is we took a whipping. The good news is we all took it together. It was a team loss," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Lattimore finished with 109 yards and a touchdown, the third straight time he's gone past the century mark on the Bulldogs. Coincidence the Gamecocks have posted their first-ever three game win streak in the series that began in 1894?
The Gamecocks' 10th straight victory surpasses a school best set with their 9-0 start in 1984. That team reached No. 2 in the country and were poised for the top spot when No. 1 Nebraska lost, but South Carolina fell to Navy to lose perhaps its best-ever shot at a national champion.
This South Carolina team showed the brand of championship defense usually found on the SEC's best teams.
Georgia came in with a league-leading 48.2 points and 536 yards per game of offense -- and where shut down by the Gamecocks.
Gurley and Marshall kept pounding the line to little effect, held scoreless after combining for 294 yards and five TDs in last week's win over Tennessee. Aaron Murray was 11 of 31 for 109 yards. He was sacked twice and threw one interception.
The game figured to be a matchup of Georgia's explosive offense against South Carolina's impenetrable D. The Gamecocks showed early it was no contest, holding the Bulldogs to just 111 yards of offense in the first half and taking control of the game.
Dawgs Put On A Leash
Georgia had 224 yards of offense Saturday, its lowest output since 2006. Here's how the loss compared to how the Bulldogs had been performing this year.
|First 5 Games||Saturday|
|Yds per play||8.0 *||3.3|
|1st down yds PG||329 *||80|
|20= yd plays||8.6 *||2|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
South Carolina's offense set the tone at first, Spurrier once again showing there are few better at calling plays. Damiere Byrd outfought Georgia's Bacarri Rambo for a 42-yard catch on the game's second snap. Two plays later, Shaw hit a wide-open Bruce Ellington for a 20-yard TD catch that sent the record crowd of 85,199 into a frenzy.
They had more to celebrate moments later when Kelcy Quarles tipped Murray's pass high in the air and safety DeVonte Holloman made a diving interception. Shaw cashed in again for the Gamecocks, ending a 69-yard sequence when tight end Rory Anderson came open in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
South Carolina used special teams -- typically a Georgia strength -- to extend the lead a few plays later after a three-and-out by the Bulldogs. Sanders bobbled the punt, got the ball back, broke several tackles and outrun the punter to the left pylon for a 21-0 lead with less than nine minutes gone.
The Gamecocks defense took control after that.
Georgia "didn't move it very far when they were out there," Spurrier said with a grin.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sacked Murray for a loss of 6 yards to stall one series. Gurley and Marshall were continually swallowed up for minimal gains. The Bulldogs looked as if they'd found their footing right before halftime, Murray converting three third-down passes to get to the Gamecocks 4. But on fourth-and-goal, Rantavious Wooten was stopped shy of the end zone after catching a short pass by D.J. Swearinger and Shaq Wilson.
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First-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward thought his team could put on a show against the high-powered Bulldogs. "I believe in the young men that I coach every day, I believe in the system that we run and I believe we can play with anybody," he said.
The biggest drama of the second half was whether Georgia would leave with its first shutout since a 31-0 loss to Alabama in 1995. Spurrier kept his defensive starters in, yet the Bulldogs drove 75 yards to score on Ken Malcome's 3-yard TD run with 1:55 to go.
Malcome finished as the team's top rusher with 45 yards, all on Georgia's scoring drive.
"We hoped to make a play to change momentum but they never allowed us to," Richt said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Five South Carolina players scored TDs and the D held UGA to 224 total yards. The Bulldogs never really had a chance.
Gameball goes to... South Carolina did most of its damage on the ground, Marcus Lattimore gaining 109 of its 230 rushing yards.
Stat of the game... 467. Lattimore has owned Georgia in his career, racking up 467 yards and 4 TDs in three games against the Bulldogs.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-16||5-12|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||0-0|
|TD||12:28||Bruce Ellington 20 Yd Pass From Connor Shaw (Adam Yates Kick)||0||7|
|TD||06:29||Rory Anderson 14 Yd Pass From Connor Shaw (Adam Yates Kick)||0||14|
|TD||05:18||Ace Sanders 70 Yd Punt Return (Adam Yates Kick)||0||21|
|TD||08:30||Marcus Lattimore 1 Yd Run (Adam Yates Kick)||0||28|
|TD||06:17||Connor Shaw 7 Yd Run (Adam Yates Kick)||0||35|
|TD||01:55||Ken Malcome 3 Yd Run (Marshall Morgan Kick)||7||35|
Connor Shaw completed 4-of-5 passes thrown 10 yards or more downfield for 138 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against Georgia. It was his third straight game completing over 50 percent of his 10-yard throws, the longest stretch in his career. Aaron Murray struggled throwing downfield, completing a season-low 33.3 percent of his 10-yard throws. One difference was eight of Murray's 12 attempts were on third or fourth down, whereas Shaw attempted just one 10-yard throw on third or fourth down.[+]
Throws of 10+ Yards
Georgia was hit in the backfield on 10 of its 36 runs Saturday, including 7-of-17 in the first half. By comparison, South Carolina was contacted behind the line of scrimmage on just four of its 51 runs. The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 3.7 yards before contact per rush. They averaged 1.7 against South Carolina.
Georgia had 224 yards Saturday in its loss to South Carolina. It was its fewest yards since having 200 against Virginia Tech in the 2006 CHICK FIL-A Bowl. The Bulldogs problems stemmed from first down, on which they gained 80 yards on 26 plays. They entered leading FBS with 9.6 yards per play on first down.[+]
Marcus Lattimore ran for 109 yards on 24 carries Saturday against Georgia. It was his third straight 100-yard game against the Bulldogs. Lattimore gained 43 percent of his yards after contact. For his career, Lattimore is averaging 66.3 yards after contact per game against the Bulldogs, his second most against any team. He had 69 yards after contact in his only game against Florida.[+]
Marcus Lattimore Rushing
Georgia had ridden its 2 star freshmen tailbacks to a 5-0 start; however, the South Carolina defense corralled the dynamic duo Saturday. The Gamecocks held the 2 more than 100 yards below their average through the 1st 5 games.[+]
Updates with final result of this game. This series between Georgia and South Carolina began in 1894 and includes now 65 meetings. But in a game against a top-10 Georgia team, this was South Carolina's largest-ever win in the series. South Carolina Largest Wins vs Georgia Margin Score 2012 28 35-7 1978 17 27-10 1903 17 17-0 1959 16 30-14 1988 13 23-10
Georgia already has 11 touchdowns of 30 yards or longer this season which is one fewer than they had all of last season. The Bulldogs have 43 plays that have gained 20 yards or more, six more than any other FBS team. Georgia has used a mix of passing and rushing to break these plays. The Bulldogs are the only team with at least 15 rushes and 20 completions of 20 yards or longer this season.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information