September 11, 2010

Dawgs falls short on the road in Columbia

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Mark Richt summed Saturday's SEC opener against South Carolina as succinctly as he could.

There really wasn't a lot the Georgia football coach could say.

The Gamecocks' 17-6 victory over his Bulldogs before a Williams-Brice Stadium crowd of 80,974 left much to be desired on both sides of the ball, although Richt couldn't seem to get running back Marcus Lattimore out of his mind.

The freshman lit up the Bulldogs with a 37 carry, 182-yard effort and scored both of South Carolina's touchdowns, bruising the ego of the Georgia defense which reverted back to some of the questionable tackling issues that plagued the team a season ago.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what the story of the game was," Richt said. "No. 21 for them (Lattimore) was certainly the most dominating player in the game. South Carolina did a nice job of planning for that young man to carry the ball and kept feeding him. But when it came to tackling him, we just didn't do a good job."

But Lattimore wasn't the only thorn in the side of the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1).

Despite a respectable showing by quarterback Aaron Murray (14-of-21 for 192 yards and no interceptions), Georgia managed just 61 yards rushing and lost a key fumble that no doubt turned the game around.

With South Carolina leading 14-6, Georgia appeared to be driving for a potential game-tying score (with a two-point conversion) only to have running back Washaun Ealey fumble the ball at the Gamecock 3-yard line with 3:27 to go in the third.

Just prior to the turnover, Murray made a beautiful 55-yard completion to Kris Durham off a pump fake that moved the football down to the 10.

Following a 6-yard pass to Logan Gray, Israel Troupe was called for a false start before Ealey fumbled on the next play. The officials reviewed the play to make sure the running back's knee was not down. It wasn't and the Gamecocks took over at their own 14-yard line followed a 11-yard return by Stephon Gilmore.

"We made some plays, unfortunately we just didn't make them at the right moment," Durham said. "It was a tough break but there was still a lot of time in the game. It's just something you have to let go, have a short memory and just build off it."

Georgia managed just 253 yards of total offense against South Carolina, which collected 354 against the Bulldogs, who were routinely controlled on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

"I think the biggest reason it was a good win for us is not so much in beating but (in) dominating the line of scrimmage," Spurrier said. "We haven't been able to control the line of scrimmage the way we did today."

The Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 also controlled the clock, holding the football for 35:15 compared to just 24:45 for Georgia.

When you've a back capable of moving the pile like Lattimore, it's easy to understand why.

The 6-foot, 218-pounder left the Bulldogs' defensive line battered and bruised as he bulled his way to 103 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, both in the first half as the Gamecocks muscled their way to a 14-3 lead.

Lattimore tallied 103 of his yardage in the first half alone, including 42 on a 16-play, 79-yard drive that ate up 8:02 on the game's first possession which he capped with a 2-yard run.

Blair Walsh answered on Georgia's next possession with a 27-yard field goal, which could have well resulted in a touchdown had Orson Charles not bobbled a third-down catch at the 10- yard line.

The Bulldogs could have used the six.

South Carolina's defense did not need any help.

The Gamecocks held the Bulldogs to just 73 yards in the first half, 47 courtesy of Ealey who finished with 75 yards on 19 attempts. Murray, meanwhile, attempted just eight passes completing eight for 32 yards.

Lattimore bested Georgia's yardage total all by himself, punctuating the end of the first half by adding his second touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:34 to go.

Trailing 14-3 at the half, Georgia closed within eight points on Walsh's second field goal - a 26-yarder with 6:43 to go in the third.

A 24-yard field goal by Spencer Lanning with 1:12 to play accounted for the final score.

"We fought. You can't say we didn't fight," Richt said. "We just didn't make enough plays to win."

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