COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Georgia's standout freshman running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, dubbed by some as “Gurshall,” didn't have the breakout performance that Marcus Lattimore did in this game two years ago as a rookie.
Gurley took the ball on Georgia's first offensive play and ran wide for 15 yards. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that was the longest run of the night for either of the freshmen. Georgia was already down 7-0 at that point, and Aaron Murray had a pass tipped an intercepted two plays later, leading to a 14-0 Carolina lead.
“They just came out hyped, man,” Gurley said. “It was a great defense that we played against. We're just going to go home, see our mistakes and pick it up next week.”
Gurley finished the game with 13 carries for 39 yards, and Marshall had 12 carries for 37 yards. It was the first game of their young careers in which neither topped the 100-yard mark.
Sophomore Ken Malcome, who played on the Bulldogs' final offensive drive, led the team in yardage with 45 on just five carries and scored the lone touchdown of the night. He also had the long run of the night for Georgia with 20.
Wesleyan grad Merritt Hall ran once for five yards. The Bulldogs finished with 115 yards on 36 rushes, a 3.2 average per carry.
Blowout allows Miles to get carries
For the past three years, Brookwood grad Kenny Miles has had the unfortunate luck of playing the same position as Lattimore, who is likely destined for the NFL. But this week South Carolina got up big early and stayed up big, allowing the senior to get in some playing time.
Miles entered the game in the third quarter and ended the contest rushing 10 times for 39 yards. That brings his season total to 27 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Last year, Miles rushed 54 times for 204 yards and a touchdown in seven games. It was the fourth-highest yardage total on the team behind a limited Lattimore, Connor Shaw and Brandon Wilds.
Richt knows a 28-point comeback not always impossible
Georgia had multiple times to try to get back into the game after falling behind by a lot early, but none of them came to fruition. It could've happened in the second quarter when the Bulldogs were within sniffing distance of the end zone, but Rantavious Wooten was stopped at the 1 on a fourth down play, keeping Georgia off the board.
“It's a long game,” Richt said of being down 21 after 10 minutes of play. “You've got 50 (minutes) to go, so a lot of things can happen in 50 minutes. Did I think we'd climb back in it and make it more competitive? Yeah. But we were not able to do that.”
Coach Mark Richt said he still thought his team had a shot entering the fourth quarter down 28-0, and with good reason.
Richt was Florida State's offensive coordinator on Nov. 26, 1994, when arch-rival Florida had a 31-3 lead going into the fourth quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Florida's coach at the time? The same Steve Spurrier on the opposing sideline for Carolina on Saturday. Broadcaster Brent Musberger, who worked Saturday's game for ESPN, was also in the booth for that game.
The Seminoles scored 28 points in the fourth and ended up with a 31-31 tie against Florida. But this time, Spurrier's team held on in the fourth, scoring one touchdown and giving up one to Georgia in the final minutes.
“Even when we were down 28 in the fourth, I've been in a game when we've scored 28 in the fourth quarter,” Richt said. “That was possible as well, but we just couldn't get it going.”
Geathers' field goal block is Georgia's first in a while
One bright spot in the Bulldogs' game was Kwame Geathers' block of a field goal attempt by Adam Yates with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
Yates lined up well and the kick initially looked good, but maybe low. Geathers got a push in the line, stuck his hand up and blocked the kick. It was the first field goal block for Georgia since Geno Atkins in the 2009 Independence Bowl against Texas A&M, then in the Big 12 Conference.
Geathers blocked an extra point attempt earlier this season against Florida Atlantic.