Athens — Based on the way they’ve played all season, the Georgia Bulldogs were due for a stinker. Unfortunately for them, it might be a while before they can wash off the smell of this one.
Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 42-yard field goal in the second overtime, and that proved to be the difference in a 20-17 loss to South Carolina on Saturday afternoon. His kick was wide right.
The miss came after Georgia failed to gain a yard on a run and two pass attempts. The Bulldogs threw an interception on their first overtime possession, and Gamecocks kicker Parker White missed what would have been a 33-yard game-winning kick.
The loss snapped Georgia's 15-game winning streak against SEC Eastern Division goes, a 13-game home winning streak and four-game winning streak against the Gamecocks.
It was a tough outing for Georgia’s Jake Fromm, who hasn't had many in his UGA career. The junior quarterback from Warner Robins threw three interceptions for the first time in his career. South Carolina's backup safety Israel Mukuamu recorded all three picks.
Fromm almost atoned for his bad day in regulation. He led the Bulldogs on a drive for the ages -- 96 yards in 13 plays to the tie the score at 17-17 with 1:48 to play. The possession was particularly dramatic at the end, as a defensive holding call gave Georgia a first-down on fourth-and-6 at the Gamecocks 11.
Fromm hooked up with Demetris Robertson on the back line of the east end zone to bring the Bulldogs within one with 1:48 to play. Rodrigo Blankenship's extra point tied the score.
Georgia had a shot to win the game in regulation, reaching the South Carolina 38 with 13 seconds to play.
Georgia was trailing 17-10 early in the third quarter when South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski had to leave the game with a leg injury. The injury occurred on what was determined to be a late hit by Adam Anderson. Replays show Anderson might have been tripped before falling into Hilinski's legs.
Hilinski was replaced by Dakereon Joyner, a redshirt freshman from North Charleston, S.C. While the Gamecocks’ offense didn't move as well, it moved good enough to keep the chains and clock moving.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs couldn’t get out of their own way. They had quickly and impressive driven to South Carolina's 30 when the third quarter ended. When the fourth quarter started, Fromm fumbled the exchange from under center and the Gamecocks recovered to end the threat.
Fromm’s first interception of the season was a really bad one. The Bulldogs were trying to rush down the field for a late score in a tight first half. On first down at the Georgia 41, Fromm couldn’t find an open receiver and threw for George Pickens down the Bulldogs’ sideline at the last second. But the ball was short, and South Carolina’s Israel Mukuamu broke on it quickly. He picked it off in stride and wasn’t never threatened to go down on the way to a 53-yard touchdown return with exactly 1:00 remaining in the second quarter. So instead of staking itself to a lead, Georgia found itself trailing 17-10.
The Bulldogs mounted a drive in the final 60 seconds and reached the Gamecocks’ 36-yard line. But after the Gamecocks used their final two timeouts to interrupt kicker Rodrigo Blankenship’s routine, his 53-yard attempt was blocked by South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum, a senior safety from Stone Mountain. It was the first miss of the season for senior from Marietta, who had made a 50-yarder earlier in the game.
That left the Bulldogs trailing at the half for just the second time this season. Notre Dame led 10-7 at intermission in a game Georgia eventually won 23-17.
Once again, broken coverage on the right side of the Georgia defense resulted in a long touchdown in the first quarter. This time it was South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards who found himself running free down the sideline. He got behind defensive back Divaad Wilson and safety Richard LeCounte again was late getting over from midfield on the 46-yard score.
Last week against Tennessee, Marquez Callaway beat D.J. Daniel and LeCounte on a similar play that went for a 73-yard touchdown in the first quarter. This time, the play staked South Carolina to a 7-3 with 1:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD plunge by Swift at right tackle. Georgia converted a third-and-5 with a 10-yard completion to James Cook, then would face only one second down the rest of the possession.