ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia's defense allowed 454 yards in Saturday's 41-30 win over South Carolina, but the Bulldogs came up big when it mattered most.
With the Gamecocks inside Georgia's 1-yard line with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Connor Shaw flipped a fourth-down option pitch to tailback Mike Davis, who was stuffed by inside linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson for a 1-yard loss. The play had been effective for much of the game, producing a 21-yard gain in the first quarter and a 23-yard pickup in the second.
"We actually knew what play was coming relative to the formation, and I can't say enough about our guys," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "They took points off the board and really kind of ended the night. We made some improvements over last week. We were stout at the line of scrimmage. Their rush yards were more bounce-out, perimeter-type plays than physically running it at us.
"I think this game showed who had the better mental and physical toughness."
Georgia's defense never got on the field again, as the Bulldogs used 13 plays to run out the clock. Herrera led Georgia defenders with 12 tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
"I really didn't even know it was fourth down at first, but I guess it was a big stop," he said. "That changed the game right there. I wasn't surprised, because they were doing something they were having success with.
"They didn't have success running up the middle."
Beard in relief
Georgia senior left tackle Kenarious Gates, who had the challenge of blocking South Carolina All-America defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, injured his right ankle with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter and missed the rest of the game.
Stepping in was junior Mark Beard.
"If I had been matched up against him the whole game, I probably would have done better than I did," Beard said. "I was very nervous coming in, but then I came in like Robert Horry. I think I matched up pretty good with him, and we got the win."
The Bulldogs did not miss a beat with the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, scoring on Aaron Murray touchdown passes to Todd Gurley with 18 seconds left in the third quarter and to Justin Scott-Wesley with 13 minutes left in the game. Murray said Beard had a huge role in the touchdown to Scott-Wesley, which covered 85 yards.
"It was a good job by Beard," Murray said. "He got beat at first, but he kept working and allowed me to get outside of the pocket. He pushed him right by me."
Said Beard: "Our coaches preach every day about finishing the drill, and on that play he beat me at first. I finished the drill, and we got the six."
Three new starters
Georgia had three first-time starters: Scott-Wesley, defensive end Ray Drew and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. Harvey-Clemons, who was suspended for last week's game, collected five tackles and a fumble recovery.
"I didn't feel like I played that well, but I was glad to be out there helping the defense," he said.
Scott-Wesley had three catches for 116 yards, while Drew had three tackles.
Odds and ends
The sixth-ranked Gamecocks were the highest-ranked team Georgia has defeated in Sanford Stadium since downing No. 6 Clemson 27-12 in 1991. ... Freshman tailback Brendan Douglas made his debut and had five fourth-quarter carries for 31 yards. ... Redshirt sophomore cornerback Devin Bowman from Ridgeland did not dress out and has yet to play this season.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.