South Carolina got a beautiful day for its rescheduled game against the Georgia.
The result didn’t match the weather.
One day after they were supposed to play the Bulldogs in Williams-Brice Stadium in a game that was moved because of the impact of Hurricane Matthew, the Gamecocks fell 28-14 to Georgia. It was South Carolina’s first home loss to the Bulldogs since 2008, and dropped the Gamecocks to 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the SEC.
“You are what your record is. We’re 2-4,” first-year coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s not good enough.”
An announced crowd of 77,221 showed up for what is believed to be the first Sunday game at Williams-Brice Stadium since Sept. 29, 1946. That day the Gamecocks beat Newberry 21-0.
This day didn’t go as well.
“The crowd was outstanding,” Muschamp said. “Wish we’d played better, given them a better showing.”
South Carolina, which is 3-15 in its past 18 conference games, needs to win four of its final six games to be eligible for a bowl game.
The Bulldogs improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC on the strength of 326 rushing yards. Two Georgia running backs gained more than 100 yards, with Sony Michel gaining 133 yards on 21 carries, and Nick Chubb getting 121 on 16 carries. The Bulldogs’ third-string running back, Brian Herrien, had 82 yards, which was 52 more than South Carolina had as a team.
Georgia won despite completing just five passes.
“They threw it 17 times. That was probably 17 too many,” Muschamp said.
Senior Perry Orth started at quarterback after three straight games in which freshman Brandon McIlwain opened the game. Orth completed 26 of 36 passes for 288 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. Freshman running back Rico Dowdle started the game and had seven carries for 30 yards to tie A.J. Turner for the team lead in rushing yards.
The Gamecocks have an open date this week before returning home to play UMass on Oct. 22. The players will have Monday off before returning to the practice field Tuesday.
“We just have to improve our team. That’s the bottom line right now,” Muschamp said. “I don’t think anybody questions the effort. I don’t think anybody questions the want to. We’re just not getting the execution, and it’s very disappointing for them not to get the results. They have worked hard. They have put the time in. They just haven’t gotten the results.”
Despite its struggles, South Carolina closed the gap to 21-14 on a Dowdle’s first career touchdown, a 1-yard run with 1:40 left in the game. However, on the ensuing onside kick attempt by the Gamecocks, the ball bounced straight to Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin, who sprinted 43 yards untouched for a touchdown. “You really could have walked into the end zone from where I was,” Godwin said.
Star of the game: Sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel returned to the lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury and led the Gamecocks in receiving yards with 90 on four catches. It was the second-best game of his career, behind only last year’s 104 yards against Clemson. Samuel also scored on a 9-yard touchdown run.
Play of the game: On fourth-and-6 in the fourth quarter, Orth found tight end Hayden Hurst across the middle for a 35-yard gain, extending one of the Gamecocks’ two touchdown drives.
Stat of the game: The Bulldogs’ 326 rushing yards marked the sixth time an opponent has rushed for more than 300 yards since the beginning of the 2014 season. Prior to the start of that season, the Gamecocks had surrendered six such games in the previous 17 seasons.
Third down again: South Carolina converted only 2 of 13 third-down attempts. The Gamecocks are last in the SEC in third down conversions at 27.1 percent.
Orth all the way: Orth not only started the game, but played every snap. It marked the first time this season Orth played all the snaps in a game. “We had some things for Brandon, but we just never got to them,” Orth said.
Fry inching closer: Place-kicker Elliott Fry hit two extra points, which leaves him 11 points short of the school record for scoring, held by Collin Mackie with 330 points.
Who: UMass at South Carolina
When: Oct. 22, Time TBA
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium