Saturday, September 8, 2018

Post Game Notes

UGA Sports Communications

Points To Ponder: Georgia carried a 20-10 advantage to halftime and posted a 41-17 win, marking the most points it has ever scored in Columbia in the series that dates back to 1894. The 24-point margin of victory was the most in Columbia since 1971. Georgia improved to 2-0 (1-0 SEC) on the year and has won four in a row over USC. Georgia has opened the season with two straight games of 40+ points for the first time since 2012.

The Dawgs jumped ahead 14-0 in the first quarter for its big lead of the half and then exploded for 21 points in the third quarter to build a 41-10 lead. Georgia is now 18-2 under Kirby Smart when leading at the half. Georgia took the second half kickoff 75 yards on six plays, capped by a 34-yard TD pass from Jake Fromm to Mecole Hardman for a 27-10 edge. On Georgia’s next possession of the second half, they put together another six-play, 75-yard TD drive, capped by an Elijah Holyfield five-yard plunge and a 34-10 lead.

Fromm finished 15-for-18 for 194 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in three quarters while Hardman established a career-high for receiving yards with 103 on six catches. Hardman was the first Dawg receiver to have a 100-yard game since Isaiah McKenzie (103 yards on 4 rec.) vs. TCU in the 2016 Liberty Bowl win. On the 3rd possession of the second half, Georgia extended its lead to 41-10 with a nine play, 86-yard in 4:37, capped by a 15-yard TD by Brian Herrien, the first of the year and fifth of career. Holyfield finished as the leading rusher with 76 yards on nine carries (both career highs) with one TD.

To The House:
Senior DB Deandre Baker collected his first interception of the year and the sixth of his career in the first quarter and returned it 55 yards to the USC 1 before dropping it before crossing the goal line. Senior ILB Juwan Taylor scooped up the fumble and scored, which is still officially called an interception return for a touchdown, to put Georgia up 7-0. This was the fourth defensive score during the Kirby Smart era. Taylor’s touchdown marked Georgia’s first interception returned for a touchdown since Maurice Smith took one 35 yards versus Auburn in 2016. This was the Dawgs’ first interception returned for a touchdown on the road since Dominick Sanders returned a pick 88 yards at Vanderbilt in 2015.

Defense Sets The Tone: The Dawgs held the Gamecocks to a total of 79 yards, including just seven on the ground and seven points in the opening quarter. USC’s first touchdown came after the Gamecocks went 75 yards on 11 plays. In the second quarter, the Gamecocks totaled 111 yards to give them 191 on 46 plays in the first two periods but trailed 20-10. On USC’s second scoring drive, the Gamecocks went 14 plays for 71 yards and kicked a field goal. Richard LeCounte and Monty Rice led the team with a career-high in tackles with 10 and 8 respectively.

The Dawg defense stuffed a USC scoring threat early in the 4th quarter when J.R. Reed intercepted a pass in the end zone. It was his 3rd career interception and first this year. USC added a score midway through the 4th quarter on a 44-yard TD pass to cut it to 41-17. USC wound up with 336 yards of total offense on 68 plays but just 17 points.

Swift Makes It Two In A Row: Georgia only ran 31 plays in the first half and tallied 183 yards. After the defense scored the first touchdown, Georgia scored its first offensive score at the 11:50 mark in the first quarter to go up 14-0. Junior WR Mecole Hardman took a handoff 30 yards to jump start the Dawgs and they finished with a 17-yard touchdown run by sophomore TB D’Andre Swift. The drive was four plays for 76 yards in 1:15. This was Swift’s second touchdown of the year after scoring a 15 yarder versus Austin Peay and gives him five in his career.

Blankenship Booming Kicks: Junior PK Rodrigo Blankenship gave the Dawgs a 17-7 lead late in the opening period on a 45-yard field goal and then made a 44-yarder as the first half expired for a 20-10 edge. He is now 3-for-3 on the year and 12-for-18 in his career from 40+. He logged six more touchbacks on kickoffs today after going 8-for-8 on touchbacks during the season opener last Saturday.

Points off Turnovers: Georgia is +1 in Turnover Margin, scoring 14 points off three turnovers on the year. Opponents have forced two turnovers and turned them into no points. In the opening period, Deandre Baker took an interception 55 yards to the USC 1 and Juwan Taylor picked up the loose ball for the touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Rashad Fenton picked off Jake Fromm and returned it 16 yards to the UGA 34. The Gamecocks went for it on 4th-and-9 and did not convert. In the 4th quarter, J.R. Reed notched an INT in the end zone for a Red Zone stop.

Captains: Today’s captains were seniors Jonathan Ledbetter and Lamont Gaillard plus junior J.R. Reed.

Up Next: Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) returns to Sanford Stadium next Sat., Sept. 15 against Middle Tennessee State with kickoff at 7:15 (ESPN2​)

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