South Carolina pulled off the first huge upset of the 2019 college football season with a 20-17 double overtime win over No. 3 Georgia.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game at 20-20 and send it to a third overtime with a 42-yard field goal by star kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. But the kick sailed wide left.
Before the Bulldogs got the ball, Georgia coach Kirby Smart made an extremely bad decision to call a timeout with South Carolina scrambling ahead of a 4th and 1 on its possession in the second overtime. The Gamecocks were all discombobulated ahead of the play and scrambled to the line with six seconds on the play clock. As a delay of game seemed inevitable, Smart called a timeout and saved South Carolina from the potential penalty.
South Carolina converted the fourth down on the next play after the timeout and Parker White kicked a field goal on the possession for what became the game-winning points.
The Gamecocks played much of the second half and all of overtime with backup Dakereon Joyner in at quarterback for the injured Ryan Hilinski.
Hilinski suffered a left knee injury when he got hit by a Georgia defender early in the third quarter. Hilinski had been filling in at QB for Jake Bentley, South Carolina’s original starter, who suffered a foot injury in the first game of the season.
Joyner, a converted wide receiver, kept South Carolina’s offense moving with his ability to escape the pocket and improvise on scrambles. South Carolina’s offense had fewer than 300 yards but didn’t turn the ball over once.
Georgia’s first OT escape
The Bulldogs looked toast in the first overtime. Georgia got the ball to start the extra period and Jake Fromm appeared to have an easy second-down completion to Tyler Simmons. But the ball bounced off Simmons’ hands and was intercepted by Israel Mukuamu.
South Carolina needed just a field goal for the win. And the game-winning attempt came from a reasonable 34-yard distance. But White’s kick sailed just over and outside the right upright.
South Carolina’s regulation escape
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp almost lost his team the game in regulation. The Gamecocks faced 4th and 4 at the Georgia 40 with 40 seconds left. And Muschamp decided to let White try a 58-yard field goal.
White’s career-long field goal came earlier in the game. It was from 49 yards out. Predictably, White’s kick never came close to going through the uprights.
The decision gave Georgia the ball with two timeouts and an all-SEC kicker in Blankenship. While South Carolina blocked a Blankenship kick at the end of the second half — his first miss all season — it sure looked like Blankenship could be winning the game for the Bulldogs.
But then Georgia’s offense stepped all over itself. Again. The Bulldogs got called for an illegal shift penalty on a play that started with eight seconds left. The five-yard penalty moved the ball back to the South Carolina 43. A makeable 55-yard field goal had been turned into a potential 60-yard kick.
Smart then eschewed the idea of a long field goal. He kept the offense on the field. That play clearly didn’t work because the game ended up in overtime.
Georgia QB Jake Fromm threw 3 picks
Georgia’s offense was lifeless all day until the final minutes of regulation. The Bulldogs got the ball back from South Carolina at their own 4 and moved the ball 96 yards in 13 plays for a game-tying touchdown with under two minutes left.
That touchdown came with an assist from a South Carolina penalty. A play before Demetris Robertson’s spectacular TD catch, South Carolina was flagged for holding on a fourth-down play where Fromm threw a pass that had no hope of getting caught by a receiver.
But the Bulldogs were ultimately undone by a host of turnovers. Fromm threw three interceptions as Georgia’s passing offense just could not get on track.
Fromm finished the game with 295 yards passing but threw 51 passes to get to that mark. The downfield shots were few and far between in Georgia’s playbook and that allowed South Carolina to key in on the run. Georgia ran the ball 43 times for 173 yards — far worse than its normally efficient production on the ground.
Georgia can still make the playoff
While there’s not much to be happy about if you’re a Georgia fan, you can’t lose all hope either. There’s still a very good path to the playoff for the Bulldogs.
First, Georgia still controls its own destiny in the SEC East. If the Bulldogs win out, they’re in the SEC Championship Game. It’s as simple as that.
Second, there are three ranked opponents still left on the schedule including Florida and Auburn. Wins will move Georgia back up toward the top five. And a win in the SEC title game over whoever comes out of the SEC West will do a lot of good in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee.
Are the Bulldogs good enough to do that? We’ll find out in the coming weeks whether or not Saturday was simply an aberration.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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