COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dylan Thompson threw for three touchdowns and No. 24 South Carolina’s maligned defense stood strong on a fourth-quarter goal line stand to topple No. 6 Georgia 38-35 on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) had a first-and-goal on the Gamecocks’ 4 down three points with 5:24 remaining. But Hutson Mason was called for intentional grounding to set Georgia back and the usually reliable Marshall Morgan missed a 28-yard field goal.
“When they missed the field goal, that’s the loudest it’s been in a long time,” Thompson said.
Todd Gurley ran for 131 yards and a touchdown, yet the Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) kept the Bulldogs’ star from making a bigger impact.
The victory was South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s 201st as a SEC coach, tying him for second all-time with Georgia great Vince Dooley. It put the Gamecocks back in the SEC East race.
South Carolina waited out a few moments of drama on its last series in the weekend’s lone game between ranked teams. Thompson’s sneak on fourth-and-short at midfield just reached the first-down marker with 1:22 left. Georgia coach Mark Richt challenged the spot, but his appeal was turned down.
Gamecock players, bashed by fans and commentators since falling to No. 7 Texas A&M 52-28 two games ago, sprinted to the student section to celebrate their fourth victory in their last five meetings with Georgia.
“Like I said last week, some wins are better than others,” Spurrier said with a smile.
The win also made Spurrier 16-6 in his career against the Bulldogs and moved him past Auburn’s Shug Jordan for most victories all-time vs. Georgia.
The Bulldogs entered with momentum and a Heisman Trophy front-runner in Gurley after their 45-21 defeat of No. 23 Clemson to start the season.
But South Carolina put them on their heels in a hurry, Thompson going 4-for-4 for 64 yards including a 10-yard scoring throw to Roland.
After Georgia moved in front 10-7 — and Morgan hit an SEC-record 19th straight field goal — the Gamecocks got help to regain the lead. A Georgia interception was ruled pass interference on cornerback Devin Bowman before defensive tackle Toby Johnson hit Thompson late to push the Gamecocks to the Bulldogs 8.
Thompson found Pharoh Cooper moments later for a 14-10 lead.
Thompson’s 18-yard pass to Rory Anderson and Elliott Fry’s 32-yard field goal sent the Gamecocks to the half ahead 24-13.
Little went right for the Bulldogs in the opening half, with Morgan missing a 44-yarder after making 20 straight. He broke the SEC mark he shared with Tennessee’s Fuad Reviez with a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter then added a 26-yard field goal.
Gurley, who had 198 yards rushing and four touchdowns (one on a kickoff return) to beat Clemson, looked ready to go off Saturday night with 30 yards on his first three carries in the opening period.
That’s when the Gamecocks zeroed in on Georgia’s star tailback, who was held to 14 yards the rest of the half.
Gurley also had a 54-yard TD run wiped out by a holding penalty.
because of holding on sophomore guard Brandon Kublanow.
Mike Davis, who gained 149 yards against Georgia a year ago, finished with 66 yards while backup Brandon Wilds led the Gamecocks with 93 yards rushing and a 24-yard TD.
Georgia closed to three points one last time on Quayvon Hicks’ 1-yard scoring run with 7:10 left.
The game was delayed nearly 90 minutes because of lightning and severe weather.