After the Gamecocks went three-and-out, Georgia ripped off a 49-yard drive that ended with Bell, a receiver who has been getting extended time at running back, taking it in from the 3 to give Georgia its first lead of the game before the third quarter was halfway done.
It was the first time Georgia has trailed since last year’s playoff semifinal victory over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, Wells sustained a foot injury on the scoring play and didn’t return.
The Bulldogs answered with Peyton Woodring’s 31-yard field goal, but the Gamecocks tacked on another TD with just a minute left in the half after Woodring missed a chip shot from 28 yards.
“We just went toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the country and back-to-back defending national champions,” coach Shane Beamer said. “We just weren’t able to get it done.”
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have shown a lot of promise under Beamer, and their performance over the first two quarters was certainly impressive. But the second-half meltdown demonstrated that they’re not quite ready for prime time in the SEC.
Georgia: The running game got a big boost from the return of Edwards, who provided the sort of explosiveness they’ve been missing. But the Bulldogs have some troubling concerns in the kicking game, which has traditionally been one of their strongest areas. Woodring is just 3 of 6 on the year, including two misses from inside of 30 yards. He also was wide right on a 43-yarder against the Gamecocks. “We’ve seen much better in practice,” Smart said. “We’ve got to do something there.”
Georgia lost offensive tackle Amarius Mims to what appeared a fairly serious left ankle sprain in the first half, while running back Kendall Milton left with an ailing left knee.
The Bulldogs already were missing receiver Ladd McConkey, who has yet to play this season because of a back issue, and star safety Javon Bullard with an ankle injury sustained the previous week against Ball State.
As for Wells, Beamer said the receiver may have a broken bone in his left foot.
The second-half blitz ensured the Bulldogs will easily maintain their No. 1 ranking, though they may lose a few first-place votes.
South Carolina: Hosts Mississippi State next Saturday in its first SEC home game.
Georgia: Caps a four-game homestand to start the season, taking on non-conference foe UAB next Saturday.