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Daniels, UGa defense lead No. 2 Dawgs past South Carolina 40-13

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shakes hands with South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, right, after an...
Georgia coach Kirby Smart shakes hands with South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, right, after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 40-13. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)(Butch Dill | AP)
Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — JT Daniels returned to the lineup with three touchdown passes, Georgia’s fearsome defense nearly made it three straight games without allowing a TD and the No. 2 Bulldogs romped to a 40-13 victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.

Daniels completed 23 of 31 for 303 yards, including scoring throws of 43 yards to Jermaine Burton, 38 yards to freshman Adonai Mitchell and 4 yards to James Cook.

Georgia (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) finally gave up a touchdown while on defense when Luke Doty, getting the ball on the Bulldogs’ side of the field after a fumble, connected with Josh Vann on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 10:55 remaining.

To that point, the only touchdown against Georgia this season had come on an interception return.

With Doty playing for the first time this season, South Carolina (2-1, 0-1) gave up three sacks and a safety, along with two turnovers that led to Georgia touchdowns.

Daniels sat out a 56-7 victory over UAB with an oblique injury, watching as backup Stetson Bennett tied a school record with five touchdown passes.

Daniels wasted no time re-establishing his hold on the No. 1 spot, completing a 21-yard pass to Brock Bowers on his very first snap and guiding the Bulldogs to the end zone on their first two possessions.

Bennett got a shot the third time the Bulldogs had the ball. He promptly threw an interception that was returned to the Georgia 12, setting up a field goal.

Daniels returned to the game and didn’t leave until early in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in doubt.

After punting the ball away in the closing seconds of the first half and content to settle for a 21-6 lead, Georgia wound up scoring five more points.

Backed up on their own 1, the Gamecocks explicably attempted to throw out of the end zone. Doty was sacked by Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith for a safety.

Then, after receiving the free kick, Daniels completed three passes for 39 yards to set up Jack Podlesny’s 36-yard field goal as time expired, sending Georgia to the locker room up 26-6.

Georgia put it away in opening minute of the second half, again sparked by a huge defensive play.

Doty’s pass was picked off by Derion Kendrick, who returned it to the South Carolina 20. Zamir White ripped off a 15-yard run, then took it in from the 5 to pad the lead to 33-6.

Cook had two touchdowns, also scoring on a 23-yard run.

THE TAKEAWAY

South Carolina: Shane Beamer definitely looked like a rookie head coach on that sequence near the end of the first half. With just 32 seconds left, there was no need for Doty to drop back to throw in the end zone against such a dominating defense. It cost the Gamecocks big time.

Georgia: If there was any question about Daniels’ status as the No. 1 quarterback — and there really shouldn’t have been — that was put to rest by a performance that improved his record to 6-0 as the Bulldogs’ starter.

TOUGH LOSS

South Carolina middle linebacker Sherrod Greene went down with what appeared to be a serious injury on the second play of the game.

Greene was carted off the field after his right knee took an ugly hit on a run by Georgia’s Zamir White.

It was another tough blow for the senior. In the 2020 opener, Greene fractured his hip and missed the rest of the season.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: Travels to Kentucky next Saturday for its first SEC road game.

Georgia: Heads to Vanderbilt next Saturday for its first true road game of the season, though it may feel like home given the hefty red-and-black contingent that normally makes the trip to Nashville.