Sanford Stadium started off loud and boisterous at high noon, but the 90,000 plus in attendance departed in silence and disappointment.
Why? The South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Will Muschamp came into Sanford Stadium as 42 point underdogs and defeated the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs 20-17, for the first time Between the Hedges since 2011.
The score is an indication of how close this game was. It took four quarters and two overtimes to decide the outcome.
For South Carolina, all that was on their minds was upsetting the No. 3 ranked team in the country to move above .500 overall and in the SEC. Meanwhile, Georgia looked to continue their home dominance and improve offensively after slow starts on offense the past two games.
On the Bulldogs opening possession, they went 42 yards before settling for a 50 yard field goal by kicker Rodrigo Blakenship to lead by three with 10:15 to go in the first quarter.
As both teams went three and out, the Gamecocks made the second possession count. This time, starting quarterback Ryan Hillinski completed a 46 yard pass to Bryan Edwards to lead 7-3 with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs responded on the ensuing drive, this time running back D’Andre Swift capped off a nine play, 75 yard drive with a one yard rushing touchdown to regain the lead 10-7 early in the second quarter.
With less than six minutes to go in the second quarter, on 4th and six, the Bulldogs went for it. They were unsuccessful though as Fromm’s pass to wide receiver Demetris Robertson was incomplete turning it over on downs.
The Gamecocks capitalized on the great field position. They moved from their own 38 to the Bulldogs 32 before settling for a 49 yard field goal by kicker Parker White to tie the game at 10.
Georgia’s next drive ended in disaster. This time, quarterback Jake Fromm threw his first interception and pick six of the season which was returned by Gamecocks defensive back Israel Mukuamu. Mukuamu took it to the house for 53 yards.
The Gamecocks led 17-10 at halftime.
Both teams were scoreless for the third quarter and for different reasons.
The Gamecocks starting quarterback, Hilinski, got injured on their second offensive possession on the quarter and redshirt freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner had trouble moving the ball on a stoudt Bulldogs defense.
The Bulldogs struggled on the ground only gaining 16 yards while the Gamecocks out rushed them 46 to 16.
As the Bulldogs began the last offensive possession of the third quarter, Fromm led the offense from their own 23 to the Gamecocks 30 as the quarter ended. Momentum seemed to be shifting the Bulldogs way and fans grew excited with more to cheer about.
On the first possession of the fourth quarter, Fromm fumbled the snap and Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Brunson recovered it on the Gamecocks 29.
Unfortunately, the Gamecocks were unable to take advantage of the turnover as the Bulldogs defense forced a three and out.
Georgia’s ensuing possession ended in another turnover, this time from Fromm again. Mukuamu intercepted him again ending a promising Bulldogs drive once again.
Joyner and the Gamecocks still could not take advantage, going three and out again, giving the Bulldogs offense one last chance.
This time, the Bulldogs started from their own four and needed to go 96 yards to tie the game and force overtime. Bulldogs fans remained optimistic but cheered in hopes of the Bulldogs tying the game.
On the Gamecocks 11, it is fourth and six and the Bulldogs needed a first down to keep their hopes of victory alive.
Fromm attempted a pass to tight end and Tennessee Volunteer transfer Eli Wolfe but it was incomplete, until a yellow flag was thrown.
Holding was called on Gamecocks defensive back Jammie Robinson, giving the Bulldogs first and goal at the Gamecocks six.
It only took one play for Fromm to find Demetris Robertson for a six yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 17 with 1:48 to go.
The Gamecocks drove to the Bulldogs 40 before the Bulldogs defense held strong forcing a fourth and three.
The Gamecocks attempted a 57 yard field goal which was no good by White.
This in turn gave Georgia great field position at their own 40 with 40 seconds to go in regulation.
With three seconds remaining, the Bulldogs had the ball on the Gamecocks 43 with three seconds to go.
Fans rooted for Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart to let Blankenship attempt a field goal instead of a hail mary but Smart chose to do a Hail Mary.
The hail mary was unsuccessful as both teams headed into overtime. Georgia fans booed Smart’s decision.
The Gamecocks won the toss and elected to go on defense first.
After a four yard run by Swift on the Bulldogs first possession of overtime, Fromm attempted a pass to wide receiver Tyler Simmons but was intercepted by Mukuamu, his third of the afternoon.
The Gamecocks needed any points to win but would have to settle for a field goal.
As the crowd inside Sanford Stadium grew louder, White missed the 33 yard field goal, wide right.
The second overtime with the Gamecocks having possession. After driving to the Bulldogs six, they settled for a 24 yard field goal which was good by White.
The Bulldogs were unable to move from the Gamecocks 25. Blankenship attempted a 42 yard field goal which was wide left, giving the Gamecocks the upset victory.
“We opened with four turnovers, you can’t beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin 4-0,” said Smart in his statement after the game. “Give South Carolina and their staff a lot of credit, I thought Will [Muschamp] and his staff did a great job. They were able to control our run game, were really physical up front, they played a lot of guys, and they outplayed us.”
“Man it’s tough. Heartbreaker. Man you wish you would of played better today,” said Fromm.
Fromm finished the game 28-51, 295 yards, three interceptions and one touchdown.
Blakenship who missed the 42 yard game to extend it to another overtime was not too down on himself after the game.
“Keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Blankenship when asked how does he bounce back. “I have a lot of trust in my process and my preparation for every game. It has been pretty good to me until this point. I’m still going to try to take 50 yarders from the day as a positive there.”
The Bulldogs seek to bounce back as they host the Kentucky Wildcats next Saturday.