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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Georgia wakes up in time to avoid upset at South Carolina

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posted on Sep, 12 2004 @ 11:32 AM
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It's never easy for Georgia at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The third-ranked Bulldogs came from 16 points down behind David Greene's 213 yards and two touchdown passes to beat South Carolina 20-16 on Saturday night.

"Everytime we come here, it's really no fun at all," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said.

Two years ago, Georgia (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) defeated South Carolina 13-7 on the way to an SEC title.

Greene and the Bulldogs were flat early, but found their rhythm in their first road test of the season.

"Sometimes we get better as the season goes on, sometimes we start off hot, like we did last year," said Greene, who admitted it wasn't his best performance. "I didn't play particularly well today, don't know why. But when you're not having a great game, you've just got to fight."

Greene finally began connecting with Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown, whose 22-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter put the Bulldogs up 20-16. The two receivers combined for 10 catches for 130 yards.

Greene was 19-for-38 with one interception. His first touchdown was a 12-yard pass to Tyson Browning near the end of the third quarter.

"When we finally scored that touchdown, we finally got something positive going," Greene said.

South Carolina (1-1, 0-1) had a couple of chances to score late. The Gamecocks drove to the Georgia 18, but Greg Blue stuffed Dondrial Pinkins, forcing a fumble.

The Gamecocks got the ball back a couple of plays later when Marcus Lawrence forced a fumble.

On fourth-and-one with five minutes to go, Georgia's defense again held off Pinkins, and Paul Oliver ended the Gamecocks' final threat with an interception near midfield.

"We have to learn how to win close games," South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said. "This will be a good learning lesson for us."

Georgia's three turnovers kept the Gamecocks in the game.

Browning mishandled his first punt return, which eventually led to an early safety. The Bulldogs trailed 16-0 after freshman Ko Simpson intercepted Greene and sprinted 57 yards untouched into the end zone with his first career pick.

"I got a good look at the ball and got in front of it," Simpson said. "After that, I just ran and did what I could to get in the end zone."

Georgia didn't score until Andy Bailey made a 26-yard field goal with 6:47 left in the half, and he added another as the second quarter ended.

Browning, who made the first of several Georgia mistakes, made up for his miscue.

With standout freshman tailback Danny Ware out in the second quarter with a bruised chest, Browning's offensive role grew, along with Michael Cooper, last year's leading rusher who had dropped to fourth on the depth chart.

But the Bulldogs had confidence in the two backs, and Browning's 12-yard score capped an 8-play, 73-yard drive that cut South Carolina's lead to 16-13.

Richt said Ware was ready to go back into the game after X-Rays were negative but he began coughing up blood.

"We think he's going to be fine," Richt said. "We just couldn't put him back in the second half."

His absence may have hurt, but Georgia held on. Browning had 11 carries for 54 yards and Cooper added 61 yards on 13 carries.

The Gamecocks took advantage of Bailey's 47-yard miss in the first quarter. Three plays later, Pinkins hit Troy Williamson on a short route, and Williamson broke free from two tacklers before sprinting for a 65-yard score, diving into the end zone.

Pinkins was 13-for-21 with 200 yards. Williamson finished with 3 catches for 131 yards.

The Bulldogs were held to just 28 yards in the first quarter, and found themselves in the Gamecocks' territory just once.

"We had some momentum," Holtz said. "But it was not a passing grade for any of us. We lost to a very good football team, but we lost."

Ware, the star in Georgia's 48-28 opening win at Georgia Southern, didn't fare too well with his first carry from the Georgia 3. He bumped into his lineman near the goal line and was swarmed by several Gamecocks including Lawrence, who was credited with the safety.

Ware left the game in the second quarter and didn't return. He had eight carries for 41 yards.

South Carolina's heralded running back Demetris Summers also struggled on his first carry, injuring his right ankle on a 3-yard run. He returned but was never a factor.

Though recent games have been close, the Bulldogs still hold a 42-13-2 edge in the series and have won the past three meetings.

Georgia is 15-6-2 at Williams-Brice Stadium and under Richt, the Bulldogs are 13-1 on the road.

"All I can say is we're not looking forward to coming back in two years," Richt said.

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