COLUMBIA, S.C. | There was plenty to throw the Georgia football team out of whack for its game Sunday at South Carolina.
The obvious thing is that word — Sunday. The Bulldogs never played a regular season game on Sunday in its history dating back to 1892. But as it turns out, Sunday is a fun run day for the Georgia offense.
Sony Michel and Nick Chubb each topped 100 yards rushing — Michel had 133 on 21 carries and Chubb had 121 on 16 — and freshman Brian Herrien added 82 as the Bulldogs withstood a late Gamecock score to win 28-14.
The Bulldogs and Gamecocks learned less than 48 hours before a scheduled Saturday night game they would wait a day to play because of Hurricane Matthew.
Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason struggled mightily and the Bulldogs scored only seven points off three first-half South Carolina turnovers, but the Gamecocks couldn’t stop Georgia on the ground on a day the Bulldogs had a season-high 326 rushing yards.
Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC) turns around and plays Vanderbilt next Saturday at noon in Athens.
There were some anxious moments in a place Georgia won for the first time since 2008. The Gamecocks cut the Georgia lead to 14-7 and 21-14 after the Bulldogs were ahead by two touchdowns, but Terry Godwin returned an onside kickoff 43 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 to go to give Georgia the final cushion.
The game was played under sunny skies and a kickoff temperature of 77, but the night before the storm knocked letters off the “South Carolina Gamecocks” stadium sign on the press box and the school removed all the letters for this game.
Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner’s house had a tree fall on its Saturday but he tweeted: “We are safe and all is well. Thank you to all for prayers and concern.”
State troopers weren’t serving their regular role assisting on game day but there were police from several jurisdictions working the game including the city of Columbia and Richland County, Lexington and Kershaw County.
More than 11,000 people were without power in Richland County late Sunday morning, according to the (Columbia) State.
The game at least gave the state a competitive game.
South Carolina (2-4, 1-4) made Georgia pay for an Eason third-quarter interception, driving 90 yards to score on a 9-yard touchdown run on a speed sweep by wide receiver Deebo Samuel with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
Eason was 5 of 17 for only 29 yards, less than he had on his one 47-yard touchdown with 10 seconds to go against Tennessee.
Georgia pinned the Gamecocks deep in their territory and got the ball at South Carolina’s 39 with 14:03 to go after a 34-yard Sean Kelley punt.
Brian Herrien had runs of 14 and 18 yards and after two Michel runs gained one yard total, Eason hit Isaiah McKenzie on a 6-yard touchdown. The wide receiver fell on the pylon in the right side of the end zone.
Georgia rushed for 195 yards in the first half alone, more than the Bulldogs rushed for three times this season including against Tennessee last week.
Chubb, who had just one carry for three yards last week coming off a sprained left ankle, rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries in the first half and had touchdown runs of 15 and 1 yards. He picked up 10 yards on third-and-8 early in third quarter and then went 40 yards, breaking multiple tackles.
Georgia attacked South Carolina’s weakness on the opening possession--their 99th in the nation rushing defense entering the weekend.
The Bulldogs lined up Aulden Bynum as a tight end next to the tackles and rushed for 64 yards on five carries on the drive.
Chubb stated the game with an 18-yard run and ended the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run as a Gamecock grabbed his jersey but couldn’t bring him down at the 3-yard line.
There were NFL scores being updated on the video board on a day the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia played on the same day.
The Bulldogs may not have liked what transpired for parts of the game, but they’ll go home a day later than they initially expected with the win they wanted.