COLUMBIA -- They were compared all week. Both athletic and versatile. One a vision of the present, the other a glimpse of a fabulous future.
But when everything concluded Saturday night inside a red-and-black splashed Williams-Brice Stadium, Quincy Carter -- the freshman -- showed that the future just might be now.
The 21-year-old rookie shook off an abysmal opening half -- during which he completed just two of nine passes -- to march Georgia on a couple of lengthy and deflating second-half drives en route to a 17-3 Southeastern Conference victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.
"Quincy struggled a bit at first," said cornerback/receiver Champ Bailey, who caught three passes for 74 yards. "It's an SEC game, though, and he really stepped up in the second half."
As Carter finished with 133 yards passing and a pair of rushing touchdowns, his counterpart, senior Anthony Wright, struggled mightily. Mainly because he couldn't step up. Bulldog pass rushers swarmed ceaselessly around the Vanceboro, N.C., native, often flushing him from the pocket.
With last week's memorable three TD performance firmly in his rear-view mirror, Wright closed at just 6-of-16 passing for 29 yards. He launched the ball just four times in the second half, and one of those sailed into triple coverage, where Jeff Harris picked it off in the end zone.
"It was probably one of the toughest, most frustrating games I've ever played in," Wright said.
Frustrating all around. In front of 83,411 fans -- the second-largest total in Williams-Brice history, Adrian Hollingshed and Antonio Cochran sparked a Bulldog defense that held the Gamecocks to a paltry 132 yards of total offense, and smothered them in crucial situations.
"When we got the ball," Gamecock wide receiver Jermale Kelly said, "we just couldn't operate right for some reason. I don't even know why."
That confusion started early. More precisely from their opening offensive snap.
Wright rolled right and tried to hit Troy Hambrick back across the field. But Cochran -- who was making his season debut -- tipped the pass and Hollingshed gobbled the loose ball. It set up a first down at the USC 19-yard line and eventually became a 1-yard TD plunge by Carter.
It continued later in the opening half, when freshman linebacker Kenny Harney -- the former Allendale-Fairfax High star -- picked up a fumble and charged 35 yards to set up a first-and-goal from the Georgia 3.
A pair of runs and an incomplete pass later and USC had to settle for a field goal.
That production was all the Gamecocks got from their offense.
"It's easy to (blame the offense), because they put us in great position," said running back Hambrick, who was a lone offensive bright spot as he closed with 83 yards on 22 carries, "and we didn't make plays."
Still, the Gamecocks trailed just 7-3 at halftime, putting them within striking distance, right where South Carolina coach Brad Scott wanted.
"As we went to halftime," Kelly said, "we really thought we had a shot."
Then Carter emerged from the locker room devoid of the nerves or whatever it was that slowed his opening half.
He fashioned a pair of lengthy drives that drained and deflated the Gamecocks.
The first covered 79 yards in 12 plays, as Carter completed a pair of clutch third-down passes and closed the drive with a 5-yard scamper that started to the right, then cut back left, before he strutted toward the Georgia faithful in far corner of the end zone.
Two possessions later, after Harris picked off the Wright bomb to Kelly, Carter led the Bulldogs on a 16-play march that encompassed 7 minutes, 36 seconds.
After going 90 yards from its own 2 -- sparked by a 50-yard Carter-to-Bailey completion -- the Georgia drive concluded with a Hap Hines 25-yard field goal, a slew of exits from the Gamecock fans and a 17-3 lead with just a couple minutes remaining.
"We had some opportunities early," Scott said. "If we could have cashed in, it would have changed things as far as the momentum swing."
Instead, the Bulldog defense quashed that notion.
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