South Carolina shocks Georgia, upends entire CFB playoff picture
Israel Mukuamu returned the first of his three interceptions 53 yards for a touchdown and South Carolina took advantage of Jake Fromm’s four turnovers to beat No. 3 Georgia 17-10 in double overtime on Saturday.
Parker White’s 23-yard field goal in the second overtime proved to be enough when Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship was wide left on his attempt from 42 yards. Blankenship’s second miss of the game sent South Carolina players charging onto the field to celebrate the upset.
Georgia (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) suffered a big hit to its national championship hopes. The Bulldogs, favored by 24½ points, could not overcome three interceptions and a lost fumble by Fromm, the senior quarterback known for avoiding mistakes. Fromm did not throw an interception in the Bulldogs’ first five games.
On the second play of overtime, Fromm’s pass glanced off the hands of receiver Tyler Simmons and was intercepted by Mukuamu. White’s 33-yard field-goal attempt missed wide right to keep the game alive.
Fromm led Georgia on a tying 96-yard touchdown drive capped by his 6-yard scoring pass to Demetris Robertson with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
White, who made a 49-yard field goal in the first half, missed a 57-yarder with 40 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs one final possession in regulation.
Fromm moved the Bulldogs to the South Carolina 38, in possible position for Blankenship to attempt a game-winning field goal. But an illegal shift penalty pushed Georgia back five yards, ending the field-goal possibility as regulation ended.
South Carolina (3-3, 2-2) took its first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 18 Tennessee in 2016. It was an important signature win for coach Will Muschamp over his alma mater.
The Gamecocks won despite losing quarterback Ryan Hilinski to an apparent knee injury.
Hilinski completed 15 of 20 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game after a late hit in the third quarter. Georgia linebacker Adam Anderson was penalized for roughing the passer.
Fromm threw no interceptions on 111 passes through five games, but his first giveaway in the second quarter was costly.
Pressure from the South Carolina defense forced Fromm to attempt a pass off his back foot. The floater from Fromm, intended for George Pickens, was intercepted by Mukuamu, whose 53-yard return gave the Gamecocks the lead.
With Georgia driving for a potential tying touchdown, Fromm fumbled the first snap of the fourth quarter. T.J. Brunson recovered for the Gamecocks at the South Carolina 29.
Mukuamu’s second interception stopped Georgia, again in South Carolina territory, in the fourth quarter.
The Gamecocks’ 17-10 lead held when senior Rodrigo Blankenship’s 53-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the half was deflected by D.J. Wonnum. It was Blankenship’s first miss of the season.
Hilinski, the freshman from Orange, California, who was recruited by Georgia, enjoyed a strong first half, completing 13 of 16 passes. Hilinski’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards in the first quarter gave the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead.
D’Andre Swift had a 1-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.
South Carolina: There was no immediate report on the severity of Hilinski’s injury. He pounded the grass for several minutes until being helped off the field. He watched the remainder of the game on the South Carolina bench. … LT Sadarius Hutcherson was helped off the field early in the fourth.
Georgia: Defensive back Mark Webb left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury. … WR Lawrence Cager appeared to aggravate a left shoulder injury when making a third-down catch in the second quarter. Cager returned to make another catch but left the game for good with injured ribs.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks gave up 468 total yards but showed surprising strength to contain Georgia’s SEC-leading rushing attack. The Bulldogs averaged 250 yards rushing before being held to 173. The Gamecocks remained poised after Joyner replaced Hilinski.
Georgia: The Bulldogs expected to have a commanding advantage on each line, but they could not wear down South Carolina’s defense as they had against previous opponents. Instead, attempts by D’Andre Swift and other backs to run at the heart of the Gamecocks’ defense had less success during the game.
Georgia, tied with Ohio State at No. 3, is headed for a fall in the next Top 25.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks face their second straight top-10 team when they return home to play No. 7 Florida next week. South Carolina has won five of the last nine in the series.
Georgia: The Bulldogs will play another home game against an SEC East rival when Kentucky visits on Saturday.