Sept. 13, 2003
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATEHNS, Ga. – Reggie Brown helped No. 8 Georgia end its three-year touchdown drought against South Carolina, catching two short scoring passes and setting up another TD with a longer reception to lead the Bulldogs past the No. 25 Gamecocks 31-7 Saturday.
Sean Jones led another dominating defensive performance by Georgia (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), which just missed its second shutout of the season. The junior safety made two interceptions and a bone-rattling hit that stuffed a South Carolina drive.
The Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1) stumbled badly after a 31-7 upset of Virginia the previous week. The only consolation: Demetris Summers scored on a 37-yard screen pass from third-string quarterback Bennett Swygert with just 52 seconds remaining to avoid a shutout.
Brown had seven catches for the second week in a row, totaling a career-high 104 yards. Greene was 16-of-27 for 208 yards, guiding Georgia to its first touchdowns against South Carolina since 2000.
The drought breaker was Greene’s 2-yard pass to Brown with 3:05 left in the first quarter, ending a streak of 181 minutes, 18 seconds – a span longer than three full games.
A year ago, the Bulldogs managed to beat South Carolina 13-7, scoring their only touchdown on David Pollack’s interception in the end zone. Georgia went on to capture its first SEC title in 20 years.
Greene and Brown could have had three touchdowns between them, but a 5-yard scoring pass on Georgia’s first possession was wiped out by a penalty. The Bulldogs settled for Billy Bennett’s 24-yard field goal.
But Georgia wouldn’t be denied.
After forcing a punt, the Bulldogs drove 86 yards in 11 plays to finally, emphatically reach the end zone. Greene completed five passes for 67 yards, the last a perfectly thrown fade from the 2 that Brown hauled in over helpless cornerback Dunta Robinson.
The Gamecocks also lost a touchdown because of a penalty. Dondrial Pinkins threw a 27-yard pass to Troy Williamson, all alone in the back of the end zone, but the celebration was short-lived. Another yellow flag, this one for holding. No TD.
A roughing the passer penalty gave South Carolina a second chance. Pinkins, though, threw his second interception of the game, this one picked off by linebacker Tony Taylor at the Georgia 19.
Pinkins was 12-of-30 for 116 yards.
Coach Lou Holtz switched quarterbacks the next time his team got the ball, but it didn’t do any good. Backup Mike Rathe, under pressure from Pollack, threw an ill-advised pass while running toward the sideline. Jones stepped in front of the receiver for an easy interception with just under three minutes left in the half.
The Bulldogs quickly drove for a 17-0 halftime lead. Brown hauled in passes of 15 and 21 yards, the second a beautifully thrown ball by Greene that found a crease between two defenders. Two plays later, Greene hit Brown cutting across the middle on a 5-yard touchdown.
“Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” the crowd chanted.
Georgia overcame injuries to several key players. Receiver Fred Gibson tried to play with a pulled hamstring, but aggravated the injury after making a 19-yard reception in the first quarter. He didn’t return.
Redshirt freshman Michael Cooper, making his first career start in place of Tony Milton, rushed for 82 yards on 14 carries, including a 46-yard run and a soaring 2-yard touchdown dive late in the third quarter. The Greene-to-Brown combination set up that score with a 36-yard pass play.
South Carolina squandered a couple of chances in the second half. On fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 26, Kenny Irons was smacked by Jones for a 5-yard loss.
The Gamecocks basically conceded when Holtz decided to go for a 25-yard field goal with less than 10 minutes remaining, but Joey Bowers clanked it off the right upright.
Georgia scored its final touchdown when Damien Gary scooped up an onside kick and sprinted 44 yards to the end zone without being touched.