It was like the Tennessee game until it wasn’t.
For the second straight week, Georgia started slow against an SEC East opponent. This time, however, it couldn’t recover.
The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) were shocked at home by the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 2-2 SEC), falling by a final score of 20-17 in overtime.
The loss snaps a 15-game winning streak against the division, as well as a 16-game winning streak in Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs trailed at halftime 17-10, but stymied the South Carolina offense for the entirety of the second half. After tying the game at 17 on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Fromm to receiver Demetris Robertson with 1:48 to go.
The teams exchanged scoreless possessions in the first overtime. In the second extra period, Parker White knocked in a short kick to give the Gamecocks a 20-17 lead.
On Georgia’s possession, Rodrigo Blankenship, who entered the game perfect on the year but had already had one kick blocked, missed a 42-yard field goal wide left, plunging the Georgia crowd into silence and the Gamecock crowd into hysterics.
Slow out of the gate yet again
For the third straight game, Georgia started the game sluggish. The Bulldogs started with a field goal, but South Carolina took the lead on a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Hilinski to receiver Bryan Edwards.
The Bulldogs answered with a touchdown drive into the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead on a one-yard run from Swift. However, they were shut out the rest of the half.
To make matters worse, the Bulldog offense gave a touchdown to the Gamecocks. On a late first half drive, quarterback Jake Fromm lofted a pass to receiver George Pickens that was instead intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Gamecock cornerback Israel Mukuamu, resulting in a 17-10 halftime deficit.
Turnovers come back to bite Bulldogs
Georgia entered the game plus-4 in turnover margin. However, its three turnovers to South Carolina’s none crushed any hope the offense had of getting going.
After the Mukuamu pick to end the first half, the offense went without a turnover in the third quarter. But on the first play of the fourth period, with Georgia driving to tie the game, Fromm fumbled a snap that was recovered by the Gamecocks, thwarting the drive.
The next drive again saw the Bulldogs drive into Gamecock territory. But on a third-and-3, Fromm’s pass was wide of Matt Landers and was intercepted once again by Mukuamu.
Finally, the fourth turnover of the day was the most costly. Fromm’s first pass in overtime went off Tyler Simmons and into the hands of Mukuamu yet again for his third interception of the day. Four turnovers are tough to overcome, especially when one comes in overtime, and that proved true for the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.
Offense comes to life, but too late
Even outside of the turnovers, the Georgia offense had plenty of problems.
The Bulldogs couldn’t get anything going for most of the afternoon, and the second half playcalling was booed by the fans at times.
However, the offense came through with a 14-play, 96-yard drive to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. This was enough to get the game to overtime, but in the wake of a loss filled with mistakes and poor execution the Bulldogs are left wondering what could have been.
3 Players who mattered
Ryan Hilinski/Dakereon Joyner - Hilinski fared well in just over a half of play, completing 15-of-20 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. When he left due to injury it was Dakereon Joyner’s turn. He didn’t do much, completing 6-of-12 passes for 39 yards, but he kept his team in position to win by avoiding big mistakes.
Jake Fromm - The Georgia signal caller completed 28-of-51 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown, which by itself is a respectable performance. However, it was his trio of interceptions that really cost the Bulldogs a shot at starting the year 6-0.
Israel Mukuamu - Mukuamu had the 53-yard interception return to give the Gamecocks a 17-10 lead right before halftime. With Georgia driving to possibly tie it late, he then picked off Fromm again at the Gamecock 35-yard line. Finally, his third interception shut down Georgia’s overtime drive. Fromm hadn’t been intercepted all year coming into the game, but Mukuamu’s plays played a massive role in giving Carolina the win.