ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia proved tonight there is life after Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno.
Joe Cox threw two touchdown passes and No. 21 Georgia got its season back on track with a 41-37 win over South Carolina in the teams Southeastern Conference opener at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia overcame an early 10-point deficit and avoided its first 0-2 start since 1996. After scoring just 10 points at Oklahoma State in their first game without offensive standouts Stafford and Moreno, each of whom left school early for the NFL after last season, the Bulldogs scored their most points against the Gamecocks in the Mark Richt era.
With both teams sputtering on offense in their season openers, the Georgia and South Carolina were expected to post another defensive slobber-knocker.
Instead, Georgia scored 24 points the final 17 minutes of the first half and took an eight-point lead into halftime.
Fifth-year Bulldogs quarterback Cox, who confirmed to ESPN on Friday hes been battling nerve-related shoulder problems which puts pressure on his rotator cuff, showed hes recovered from the flu. Cox fired a strike to a leaping A.J. Green in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass, extending the Bulldogs lead to 31-23 with nine seconds left in the second quarter.
Cox opened up the game with his touchdown pass to Green. Then, on Georgias opening drive of the second half, Cox connected with Michael Moore on a 4-yard touchdown pass. The Bulldogs led by 15.
Cox and the Georgia offense got a boost from the return team. Georgias Brandon Boykin set a school record with his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Bulldogs set a Georgia record for return yardage in a game with 209 by halftime.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said leading up to the game hed unleash sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia, and he did. Garcia went 24 for 41 passing for 245 yards with two touchdowns and an interception through three quarters.
The Gamecocks turned two Georgia turnovers into 10 points and jumped out to a 17-7 lead.