Gamecocks keep title hopes alive with win over Bulldogs

uscfoot-17passSouth Carolina proved it can still be a factor in the SEC East race after a thrilling 38-35 victory over No. 6 Georgia on Saturday night in front of 84,232 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The No. 24 Gamecocks lost the season opener to Texas A&M two weeks ago and knew they couldn’t fall two games behind the Bulldogs in the loss column this early in the season. They got enough offense from quarterback Dylan Thompson, running back Brandon Wilds and a deep core of receivers to pull off the victory.

The Bulldogs had a chance to tie it after Damian Swann intercepted a Dylan Thompson pass at the South Carolina 24-yard line and returned it to the 6-yard line. Mason was called for intentional grounding on the first play and Georgia had to settle for a 28-yard field-goal attempt by Marshall Morgan, who had a streak of 20 straight field goals broken earlier in the game. The kick was wide right and the Gamecocks still had a three-point lead with 4:24 remaining.

The Gamecocks converted a fourth down from mid-field and were able to run out the clock to improve to 2-1, 1-1 in the SEC.

South Carolina held a 31-20 lead going into the fourth quarter. Georgia scored on a 5-yard pass from Mason to tight end Jay Rome on the first play of the fourth quarter and converted the two-point conversion on a Mason pass to wide receiver Michael Bennett to make it 31-28 with 14:55 remaining.

South Carolina quickly made it a two-score game when running back Brandon Wilds capped a four-play, 58-yard drive with a 24-yard scoring run that made it 38-28 with 13:01 remaining. Shon Carson set up the drive with a 42-yard kickoff return.

Georgia answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown from fullback Quayvon Hicks with 7:10 remaining.

Thompson set the tone with three passing touchdowns in the first half to give the Gamecocks a 24-13 lead at the break. His first scoring pass was a 10-yard back-shoulder throw just inside the sideline to wide receiver Shaq Roland on the opening series. Georgia answered quickly. Mason completed two passes, the second a 33-strike to running back Sony Michel to tie it.

The Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead on a 36-yard field goal from Marshall Morgan before the Gamecocks took the lead for good on the next series.

Thompson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pharoh Cooper with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter.

Marshall added a 26-yard field goal before Thompson connected with tight end Rory Anderson on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 5:34 remaining in the half.

Elliott Fry kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

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