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(Saturday, September 12th)
Final Score: (21) Georgia 41, South Carolina 37
Athens, GA (Sports Network) - Joe Cox threw two touchdowns as 21st-ranked Georgia outslugged and outlasted South Carolina with a 41-37 win at Sanford Stadium.
Cox went 17-for-24 with 201 yards and a pick while Richard Samuel and Branden Smith each had a rushing touchdown for the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0 SEC), who bounced back from last week's 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State. A.J. Green had six catches for 86 yards and a score in the win.
Georgia's kickoff return team was effective as the squad set a record with 252 return yards. Brandon Boykin had four returns for 187 yards and a score.
Stephen Garcia went 31-for-53 with 313 yards, two scores and an interception and added 42 yards on 10 carries for the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1), who opened their season with a 7-3 win against North Carolina State last week. Wesley Saunders had eight catches for 96 yards while Tori Gurley and Brian Maddox each caught a score.
The teams combined for 54 points in the first half and Georgia held a 31-23 lead at the break.
The scoring continued to start the third as Georgia marched the ball 80 yards over nine plays in just under six minutes and took a 38-23 lead as Cox found Michael Moore on a four-yard score.
South Carolina got a 35-yard field goal from Spencer Lanning on its ensuing possession and was then awarded a safety on Georgia's next touch as the snap on a punt attempt rolled out of the Georgia end zone.
After getting the ball back on the free kick, the Gamecocks made it a one- score game with a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters as Lanning's 34-yard boot made it a 38-31 game.
On the first play of Georgia's next touch, Eric Norwood stepped in front of a Cox pass and took it 35 yards into the end zone. The extra point, though, was blocked and the Gamecocks trailed by one point.
Georgia killed off 6:36 on its next possession and ensured that South Carolina would have to get into the end zone on its next touch as Blair Walsh hit a 42- yard field goal for a 41-37 lead with 6:20 to play.
Garcia did all he could during the drive to get South Carolina into the end zone as he helped the team convert three third downs, but on 4th-and-4 at the Georgia seven-yard line, he stepped up into the pocket and fired a pass, but it was tipped away and Georgia escaped with the win.
South Carolina got the first points of the game thanks to a Green fumble that Chris Culliver recovered on the Georgia 23. Six plays later on a 3rd-and-goal, Garcia hit Gurley near the goalline and Gurley leaned into the end zone for a six-yard score a bit over five minutes in.
However, Boykin took the ensuing kickoff, bounced off a couple of tacklers and raced down the right sideline into the end zone on a 100-yard return to tie the game.
The Gamecocks, though, answered to again take the lead. On the ninth play of the drive facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Georgia 13, the Bulldogs brought the blitz, but Garcia quickly hit Maddox and he raced it into the end zone with just under six minutes to play in the first.
Branden Smith handled the following kickoff five yards deep in his own end zone and brought it out, but he fumbled the ball and South Carolina recovered at the Georgia eight-yard line. However, the Bulldog defense held tough and South Carolina had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Lanning.
The Bulldogs offense, who had only had two plays up till this point of the game, responded with a scoring drive to make it a three-point game. They were helped as Boykin returned the kickoff 48 yards to get the ball near midfield. On the seventh play, Richard Samuel took a handoff and banged the ball into the end zone from a yard out to make it a 17-14 game with 1:56 left in the first.
The touchdown sparked Georgia as the team held South Carolina on the ensuing touch and, after getting the ball back, took the ball into the end zone to grab the lead.
On the first play, Cox threw a ball in the direction of Green, who made a leaping, 23-yard catch between two defenders. On the next play a reverse play had the ball wind up in the hands of Smith, who took it around the left side and flew into the end zone on a 61-yard score for a 21-17 lead less than a minute into the second.
Boykin made a leaping interception on the Gamecocks' next touch and got a 50- yard field goal from Walsh for a 24-17 lead with 12 1/2 minutes left in the second.
South Carolina got a pair of field goals from Lanning, a 39-yarder and 22- yarder, with the second one coming with 2:29 to play in the first half to make it a 24-23 game.
Smith took the kickoff 48 yards to give Georgia the ball in South Carolina territory and Cox tossed a nine-yard score to a leaping Green in the back of the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 31-23 lead heading into the break.
Boykin's touchdown return was the longest kickoff return in Georgia history...The Bulldogs play at Arkansas next Saturday...South Carolina hosts Florida Atlantic next Saturday...Georgia leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 46-14-2 and has won seven of the last eight meetings...Samuel had 65 yards on 15 carries.
09/12 23:38:08 ET