ATHENS, Ga. — Brandon Boykin had quite a first half for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Boykin set a school record by returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, giving No. 21 Georgia a quick boost after South Carolina jumped ahead 7-0 Saturday night. He broke the previous record of 99 yards set by Lindsay Scott in 1978 and equaled by Thomas Brown in 2006.
“All day long, our motto was, ‘Follow me,’ " Boykin said. “I was going to follow everybody, and they were going to make the block. I took that to heart. It was unbelievable blocking. They opened up a hole, and I was able to take it to the house.”
Boykin had another return for 48 yards, sparking a touchdown drive that helped the Bulldogs slice into an early 17-7 deficit. He also had his first career interception while playing cornerback that set up Blair Walsh’s 50-yard field goal.
Never miss a local story.
Georgia held on in the final seconds to win 41-37.
Branden Smith fumbled a return but also brought one back 48 yards as Georgia set a school record for a game with 204 yards on kickoff returns in the first two quarters. That broke the mark of 196 set in a 33-0 loss to Kentucky in 1977.
Georgia finished with 252 yards on seven returns.
Smith, normally a defensive back, also ran for a 61-yard touchdown on a reverse while playing offense, more than making up for his early blunder.
“There was a good block on the end so I could get around the corner,” Smith said. “Once I got around the corner, I just ran hard and was able to score.”
Fun ‘N’ Gun
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier vowed to open up the offense after a lackluster 7-3 victory over N.C. State to open the season.
The Ol’ Ballcoach lived up to his word.
Stephen Garcia set career highs with 31 completions, 53 passes, 313 yards and two touchdown passes. He also led the team with 42 yards rushing, giving much of South Carolina’s 427 total yards.
Compare that with last week, when South Carolina passed only 22 times and finished with 256 yards.
Weslye Saunders was Garcia’s favorite target, catching eight passes for 96 yards.
The Bulldogs wore a special sticker on their helmets to honor the Georgia-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The sticker was a replica of the combat team’s shoulder sleeve insignia.
The 48th IBCT, comprised of some 3,000 Georgians, is deployed in Afghanistan with the mission of training and mentoring the embattled country’s army and police. While headquartered in Macon, it includes units from throughout the state.
“Hopefully, this is a sign of our appreciation for all the men and women who are serving and for their families as well,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We owe them all the support we can give.”
Richt received an e-mail this summer from John Gentry, a member of the 48th who also serves as the Director of Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department.
“To date we have lost seven soldiers in the line of duty,” Gentry wrote. “A thought that I had to honor those soldiers and families whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the 48th IBCT, the state of Georgia and the USA is this: I wanted to know if Coach Richt and the university would consider sewing on the 48th IBCT patch on No. 48 during this football season?”
Last summer, Richt was among a group of five college football coaches who toured and visited with U.S. troops in Germany and the Middle East.
“After that trip, I certainly have a greater appreciation for their sacrifice,” Richt said. “To be there and see them face-to-face was definitely an eye-opening experience.”
Georgia senior DE Rod Battle injured his left knee in the second quarter and did not return. The team won’t know the seriousness of the injury until he has an MRI, but the coaches didn’t sound optimistic. ... Walsh’s 50-yard field goal makes him 4-of-7 from 50 or more in his career and 2-for-2 this season. ... By halftime, the teams had already combined to score the most points in this series since the 1995 game, won by Georgia 42-23. This wound up being the second-highest scoring game.
in series history, surpassed only by Georgia’s 52-34 win in 1970. ... South Carolina’s 37 points were the most it’s ever scored against the Bulldogs. ... WR Tavarres King made his first career start for Georgia.