ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia junior quarterback Jake Fromm experienced a bunch of firsts, and he didn't like any of them.
Fromm suffered the initial three-interception game of his college career Saturday afternoon against South Carolina, and the Gamecocks used all three in a 20-17 double-overtime upset of the No. 3 Bulldogs inside Sanford Stadium. It was the first home loss for the Bulldogs since 2016, making the locker-room scene after the game a bit bizarre for Fromm and most of his teammates.
"It was one like I've never felt before," Fromm said. "This was the first time for me at home, and it doesn't feel good."
The shocked expressions among Georgia's players cannot be understated enough after a South Carolina team entering 2-3 with wins over Charleston Southern and injury-depleted Kentucky somehow pulled the biggest stunner of the college football season. Georgia entered with a 15-game win streak over Southeastern Conference Eastern Division opponents, with the last 14 having transpired by double digits.
South Carolina won without scoring an offensive touchdown after the first quarter. The Gamecocks prevailed despite starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski getting hurt midway through the third quarter on a roughing-the-passer penalty on outside linebacker Adam Anderson. They also won after botching the first overtime, when Parker White had a 33-yard field-goal attempt sail wide right.
The biggest triumph in Will Muschamp's four seasons with the Gamecocks was clinched when standout Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who entered Saturday having not missed all season, pushed a 42-yard attempt to the left.
"That was a great college football game, and you hate for anyone to lose in that situation, especially the way it happened," said Muschamp, whose team evened its SEC record at 2-2. "Rodrigo Blankenship has been and is an unbelievable representative of the University of Georgia, and my heart goes out to him in losing in that fashion.
"I'm really proud of our guys. We've been through a lot this year, but we did what we had to do to win the game."
The Gamecocks are believed to be the first unranked team ever to win in Sanford Stadium over a Georgia team ranked in the top five.
Georgia tied the game at 17 with 1:48 left in regulation on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Demetris Robertson, capping a 14-play, 96-yard drive. Fromm threw incomplete on fourth-and-6 at South Carolina's 11, but the Gamecocks were flagged for defensive holding on Georgia tight end Eli Wolf.
"The defense played a heck of a game today," Robertson said. "The offense didn't play as well as we should have."
Georgia went 43 yards on nine plays in the game's opening possession before settling on a 50-yard field goal by Blankenship, his third 50-yarder of the season.
A 46-yard touchdown pass from Hilinski to Bryan Edwards with 1:58 remaining in the opening quarter provided South Carolina a 7-3 lead, but the Bulldogs answered with a nine-play, 75-yard march that D'Andre Swift capped with a 1-yard run for a 10-7 edge at the 13:35 mark of the second quarter.
Fromm did not have any interceptions through Georgia's 5-0 start, but Gamecocks cornerback Israel Mukuamu timed a lofted attempt to George Pickens with a minute left in the second quarter and raced 53 yards for a touchdown that gave South Carolina a 17-10 lead at the break.
"I was under pressure and had a big guy in my face," Fromm said. "I was trying to get it out of bounds or to wherever only George could catch it. I guess I couldn't get enough on it."
After a scoreless third quarter, Fromm fumbled a snap on the first play of the fourth quarter at South Carolina's 29-yard line and was intercepted by Mukuamu a second time at South Carolina's 35 with 9:25 left in regulation. Fromm's third interception occurred in the first overtime, when his pass sailed through the hands of receiver Tyler Simmons and into the arms of Mukuamu yet again.
"You're not going to beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin 4-0," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "Being minus-four is twofold, because that means we didn't force any on defense, so we didn't cause any problems for them when it comes to that. Obviously, we didn't take care of the ball."
Fromm finished 28-of-51 passing for 295 yards, with his attempts and completions both career highs.
The Bulldogs racked up 468 yards to South Carolina's 297. Dakereon Joyner, who began this season as the third-string quarterback of the Gamecocks behind Jake Bentley and Hilinski, completed 6 of 12 passes for 39 yards and rushed six times for 28 yards.
Saturday marked the 90th anniversary of Sanford Stadium's dedication game, when Georgia defeated Yale 15-0 on Oct. 12, 1929, yet nobody was celebrating afterward except the Gamecocks.
"We can't hang our heads," Smart said. "We have to get better."
The Bulldogs, 2-1 in SEC play, will remain in Sanford Stadium next Saturday when Kentucky (3-3, 1-3) visits. The game will be televised either by CBS at 3:30 p.m. or by ESPN at 6, with that information scheduled to be revealed Sunday.
SOUTH CAROLINA 20, GEORGIA 17, 2OT
Staff writer David Paschall breaks down the game in bits and pieces.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, a former Georgia safety, notched the biggest win of his four seasons in Columbia by a country mile. The Gamecocks somehow won without an offensive touchdown in the final three quarters and the two overtimes.
Although Georgia does not keep such records, Saturday is believed to be the first time the Bulldogs have lost to an unranked team inside Sanford Stadium while ranked in the top five. Saturday was Georgia's first home loss, period, since 2016.
The Bulldogs were approaching midfield in their two-minute offense late in the first half of a 10-10 game. A Jake Fromm pass intended for George Pickens was instead intercepted by cornerback Israel Mukuamu, who raced 53 yards for a touchdown.
Long before South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski was injured midway through the third quarter, he lofted a beautiful 46-yard scoring strike to Bryan Edwards in the final two minutes of the first quarter that provided the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead.
WHAT IT MEANS
Georgia's 15-game winning streak over SEC East foes is history, as are the 14 straight by double digits. The Bulldogs made the national four-team playoff in 2017 and just missed out last year, but they will have to win out through the SEC title game to have a chance to be included this season.