Sept. 9, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The “Junkyard Dawgs” struck again Saturday night.
One day after the program’s longtime defensive coordinator Erk Russell died, No. 12 Georgia posted its first shutout in three years — and only the second ever hung on South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier — in an 18-0 victory Saturday night.
Russell led the defense for Georgia coach Vince Dooley from 1964-80 before leaving to restart football at Georgia Southern. Against the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) played with the fire and fortitude that earned Russell’s teams their famous nickname, along with four SEC titles.
Georgia’s players wore a black “ERK” decal on their helmets, then bottled up the Gamecocks (1-1, 1-0) for most of the game.
South Carolina had 10 yards rushing in the first half and 32 through three quarters. The closest the Gamecocks came to scoring was on 4th-and-goal from Georgia’s 1. But Blake Mitchell’s quarterback sneak wound up with the ball punched into the end zone and going over to Georgia by rule.
The Gamecocks drove to Georgia’s 2 midway through the fourth quarter. Again, Georgia held them without points.
This was Georgia’s first shutout since a 30-0 win at Clemson to start the 2003 season. The only other time a Spurrier team was held without points came during his first year as a college coach in 1987, when Duke lost 7-0 to Rutgers — a span of 193 games.
The Bulldogs got three field goals from Brandon Coutu, a 9-yard TD run from Danny Ware, and a safety from big defensive end Charles Johnson.
Georgia’s defense took center stage to bail out a sluggish offense, hurt when starting quarterback Joe Tereshinski injured his right ankle on the team’s first series and highly regarded freshman Matthew Stafford had to fill in.
Stafford showed his talent — he escaped a sure sack deep in own territory by rushing the width of the field then pushing forward for an 11-yard gain — and rawness with three interceptions. However, the way Georgia’s defenders played, it didn’t make much difference.
Stafford did enough to give the Bulldogs a comfortable lead. He had pass completions of 10 yards to Mario Raley and 19 yards to Kenneth Harris.
Ware did the rest, carrying four times for the final 38 yards, including a 9-yard TD run that put Georgia ahead 10-0.
Stafford hit passes of 20 yards to Thomas Brown and 39 yards to Massaquoi on his next series and looked like he’d lead the Bulldogs to another touchdown.
But his pass near the goal line was intercepted, deflected by Gamecock cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to teammate Chris Hampton.
Johnson cleaned up that error, stopping South Carolina tailback Mike Davis in the end zone for the Bulldogs’ first safety in two seasons. Then Stafford got them going once again, driving to Brandon Coutu’s second field goal of the half.
Coutu connected from 46 yards as time ran out, sending Georgia to the locker room up 15-0.