Gamecocks trampled in Athens
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ATHENS - Did somebody write down the license plate number of that back-and-red colored vehicle that ran over and trampled South Carolina on Saturday night?
Yielding 576 total yards and allowing struggling Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert to complete 24-of-25 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns, the overmatched Gamecock defense gave up seven touchdowns and a field goal in a devastating 52-20 loss to the Bulldogs in front of a sold-out crowd of 92,746 fans at Sanford Stadium.
Six Georgia drives traveled 72 yards or more as the Bulldogs averaged 9.14 yards per play.
"It's hard to believe we beat these guys four out of the last six years," Steve Spurrier said after suffering his seventh loss in 23 games against Georgia. "They totally dominated us tonight, no question about it. Their offense was very good. We got clobbered. It wasn't pretty."
Nick Chubb rushed for 159 yards for Georgia, which totaled 246 yards on the ground, and backup RB Sony Michel, who could start for most teams in the country, scored three touchdowns.
Looking for something positive for USC? Freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez led USC in rushing with 76 yards on 10 carries and completed 4-of-5 passes for 18 yards.
Perry Orth was just 6-of-17 passing for 66 yards in his first career start for the Gamecocks.
Who will start at quarterback in next Saturday's noon home game against UCF? To be determined.
"We'll do what we need to do," Spurrier said. "Perry threw a few good balls here and there. We've got to make some changes somewhere. We have to do something different. So, we'll try to do that next week.
"We have to do more defensive, obviously, than what we're doing. We can't just stand there and play. Offensively, I'm open to suggestions. We have to do some play action passing. Lorenzo had some runs. Both our touchdowns came on runs by the quarterbacks.
"Defensively, we have to do some different things scheme wise and put them in better position. I don't always want to blame the players. We're not very good right now. We'll make some changes and try to be more competitive next week. But we have offensive issues too."
Orth on QB rotation with Nunez: I don't have a problem with it. Whatever helps the team.- GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) September 20, 2015
Running back Brandon Wild left the game in the second quarter with bruised ribs after gaining 24 yards on five carries. In addition, starting center Alan Knott suffered a high ankle sprain and was replaced by freshman Zac Bailey for the second half, so you had a true freshman center snapping the ball to a true freshman quarterback for most of the second half.
Bailey will likely start at center next week, Spurrier said.
The USC defense had not allowed a point coming into Saturday night's game, but that statistic quickly faded into oblivion in the opening three minutes of the second half when Georgia turned a 24-13 halftime lead into a 38-13 blowout on a pair of Sony Michel 11-yard touchdown catches.
The Bulldogs scored again before the end of the third quarter to take a 45-13 lead into the final period, effectively rendering the final frame meaningless from an outcome perspective.
Georgia took the second half kickoff and zipped 75 yards down the field in just five plays, scoring when Lambert found Michel on the left side.
The lightning-fast drive set the tone for a second half dominated by the Bulldogs.
Orth overthrew a receiver and was intercepted by Georgia safety Dominick Sanders at the USC 44 on the Gamecocks' third snap from scrimmage.
Sanders returned the pick 33 yards to the USC 11 and the Georgia offense needed just one play for Michel to score his second TD in a span of 27 seconds.
Even a fumble at the USC 13 on Georgia's next possession did little to slow the Bulldogs momentum as Chubb scored on a 7-yard TD run with 4:13 left to enlarge the gap to 45-13.
From USC's perspective, the fourth quarter was devoted to giving Nunez as much experience as possible in order to prepare him for a larger role going forward.
Georgia drove 71 yards in 11 plays on its opening possession towards a 30-yard field goal to give UGA an early 3-0 lead. Chubb was tackled for a 2-yard loss on first down from the SC 14 and UGA eventually settled for the field goa with 7:16 left in the first quarter.
Chubb actually fumbled on his first touch of the game after running for seven yards to the SC 40. The fumble was forced by Gerald Dixon Jr., but the Bulldogs recovered to keep the drive going.
USC responded with a three-pointer of its own. Orth completed his first three passes of USC's second possession, including a 15-yard throw to freshman D.J. Neal to the UGA 33 for his first career reception. In fact, all three aforementioned completions were caught by freshmen.
Jon Hoke: We have a lot of problems with everything.- GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) September 20, 2015
When Orth was sacked on third down, Elliott Fry booted a 45-yard field goal with 1:36 left in the first quarter to make him 5-of-7 on the season, 1-2 from 40-49 yards this season. Orth was 4-of-7 passing for 37 yards on the drive.
Georgia took the lead for good early in the second quarter when Lambert then fired a pass to backup TE Jay Rome for 20 yards to the SC 2 and Chubb powered into the end zone on first down with 12:56 left in the second quarter, capping a 9-play, 82-yard drive.
After USC punted, Georgia inserted Michel into the game and he quickly proved why the Bulldogs are known for having one of the deepest running backs corps in the country. Michael carried four times for 47 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard TD run through the left side in which he was barely touched that pushed Georgia's lead to 17-3 midway through the second quarter.
Facing a critical third-and-6 from the UGA 23, Orth completed a 15-yard pass to tight end Jerell Adams over the middle. Adams dragged several UGA tacklers to the UGA 8.
On second down, Orth kept the ball and scurried four yards into the left corner of the end zone for his first career rushing TD with 2:17 left in the second quarter to narrow Georgia's lead to 17-10.
Running the two-minute drill, UGA quickly moved into USC territory. USC desperately needed to keep Georgia out of the end zone, but Lambert completed a 14-yard pass to Mitchell and Chubb ran for four yards to the USC 5.
UGA called timeout with 20 seconds left in the second quarter. Lambert stepped back and fired a 5-yard TD pass to an open Mitchell in the left middle of the end zone as the Bulldogs regained a two-touchdown edge over the Gamecocks at 24-10.
However, Carson broke free on the ensuing kickoff and ran out beyond midfield to the UGA 48. A facemask penalty on UGA moved the ball an additional 15 yards closer to the end zone with seven seconds remaining in the first half.
Even though USC had one timeout left, Spurrier decided to immediately bring in Elliot Fry for a 51-yard field goal attempt.
Fry drilled the long kick between the uprights as the half ended to cut the deficit to 24-13. It was Fry's first career field goal beyond 50 yards as he had previously been 0-for-3 in that category.
"Our kickers did well," Spurrier said. "Give them some credit."