Originally created 09/15/96

Gamecocks jolt Bulldogs



COLUMBIA - South Carolina grew up Saturday night.

The Gamecocks, one of the youngest teams in the Southeastern Conference, improved to 2-0 with a 23-14 victory over Georgia in the league opener for both teams.

Before a Williams-Brice Stadium-record of 82,950 fans, the Gamecocks pressured Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo all night and forced four turnovers for the school's best start since going 3-0 to open the 1990 season under Sparky Woods.

With the loss, Georgia, under first-year coach Jim Donnan, fell to 0-2, its worst start since 1993, when the Bulldogs finished 5-6 under Ray Goff. It is only the 11th time in the 106-year history of Georgia football that the Bulldogs have opened a season 0-2.

The USC defensive front seven harassed Bobo all night. When they weren't sacking the Georgia junior quarterback, they tipped passes or hit him shortly after he released the ball.

Despite giving up big games to Georgia tailbacks Robert Edwards and Torin Kirtsey, neither were a big factor in the second half.

South Carolina, however, didn't put the game away until sophomore quarterback Anthony Wright directed an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive, capped by North Augusta grad Steve Mixon's 3-yard touchdown run with 6:39 remaining in the game.

Wright, who was making only his second career start, was superb on the drive, completing three of four passes for 52 yards and keeping the drive alive with a 16-yard third-down scramble deep in Gamecock territory.

USC's Duce Staley was again prominent, rushing for 170 yards and one touchdown.

Unlike the 11-7 loss to Southern Mississippi in the opener on Aug. 31, Georgia was able to easily move the ball against the South Carolina defense in the first half.

Holes were plentiful and the ground game, with Edwards and Kirtsey, was especially effective, rolling up 181 yards rushing in the first two quarters alone.

Only two problems: turnovers and mistakes.

In the first half, Georgia stopped itself three times, including two fumbles and an interception. The first fumble and the interception led to 10 USC points and the second fumble, which occurred when Edwards ran into Georgia receiver Juan Daniels in the open field and USC defensive back Lee Wiggins recovered, halted a short Georgia drive at the USC 23-yard line.

Also, a holding penalty negated a 44-yard touchdown pass from Bobo to Hines Ward in the first quarter.

In addition, the Bulldogs' Dax Langley also missed a 24-yard field goal, following a drive set up by a short punt by USC's Courtney Leavitt.

The Bulldogs, however, received a break when Bobo appeared to have fumbled while being sacked in the second quarter. The ball popped loose and USC's Shane Burnham picked up and ran 30 yards for an apparent touchdown, only to discover the referees ruled Bobo's arm was in motion, making it an incomplete pass.

Georgia continued the drive and scored eight plays later, Edwards taking it in from the 1.

While Edwards and Kirtsey were carrying the Georgia offense, Staley was proving to be a problem for the Bulldogs.

The senior tailback, who had a career-high 187 yards in the opening victory over Central Florida, rushed for 130 yards in the first half alone.

His 51-yard touchdown run with 11:42 remaining in the first half was spectacular.

Staley took the handoff, broke clean through the line and weaved his way through the Georgia defense, breaking five tackles before reaching the end zone. Strong safety Alundis Sims was the last guy who had a shot at Staley, but he whiffed and had his fourth touchdown of the season.

Despite the fact that Edwards and Kirtsey had no problems finding holes, the USC pass rush was strong. Rotating down linemen, including freshmen, on just about every play, the Gamecocks pressured Bobo constantly and recorded two first-half sacks. They had just 30 sacks all of last season.

By the numbers

..................................GA................SC
First downs...............20..................22
Rushes-yards...........40-202...........41-172
Passing.....................190................224
Comp-Att-Int .............15-35-2.........18-29-0
Return Yards.............16..................58
Punts-Avg..................4-34.5...........5-33.8
Fumbles-Lost.............3-2.................0-0
Penalties-Yards..........5-36..............7-81
Time of Possession...29:05......30:55

Scoring

Georgia ................0......7.....7.....0...14
South Carolina .....7......9.....0.....7...23
First Quarter
SCar-Wright 22 pass to Bridges (Leavitt kick), 8:28
Second Quarter
SCar-Staley 51 run (kick blocked), 3:18
SCar-FG Leavitt 23, 7:59
Ga-Edwards 1 run (Langley kick), 12:55
Third Quarter
Ga-Bobo 5 pass to Daniels (Langley kick), 11:30
Fourth Quarter
SCar-Mixon 2 run (Leavitt kick), 8:21

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-Georgia, Edwards 22-159, Kirtsey 10-77, Ward 1-2, Calloway 1-1, Bobo 6-(minus 37). South Carolina, Staley 30-170, Moritz 1-3, Mixon 2-1, Wright 8-(minus 2).
PASSING-Georgia, 18-29-0-224. South Carolina, Bobo 15-34-2-180, Ward 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Georgia, Ward 6-70, Daniels 5-82, Brown 1-13, Allen 1-10, Calloway 1-8, Small 1-7. South Carolina, Staley 6-53, Davis 5-66, C.Bridges 5-53, Mixon 1-20, Robinson 1-12.