Work in Sports
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Talk about being ahead of schedule. Lou Holtz already has made South Carolina a team to consider for the top-25.
Derek Watson rushed for three touchdowns and South Carolina's defense intercepted Heisman Trophy candidate Quincy Carter five times en route to a stunning 21-10 victory over No. 10 Georgia.
One week after ending its 21-game losing streak with a 31-0 rout of New Mexico State, the Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 SEC East) looked like a legitimate Southeast Conference contender.
"We beat an excellent football team, an excellent team," Holtz emphasized. "It's just one victory. We are not 8-0, we are 2-0. We will celebrate this one and move on."
The defense, which pitched its first shutout since 1997 last week, bafffled Carter and the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) en route to the school's first win against a top-10 team in nearly 12 years.
"We got some pressure on Carter, confused them some," Holtz said. "They may have got a little impatient. Today we were a good football team."
South Carolina beat No. 6 Georgia here on September 24, 1988 for its last triumph over a top-10 opponent.
Holtz, in the second year of what many predicted would be a long and grueling rebuilding project, notched his first win in four career meetings with Georgia and watched the sellout crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium tear down the goalposts for a second straight week.
"I don't want to start (tearing down the goalposts) as a tradition. I really don't," Holtz said. "The fans were fantastic. We were a competitive SEC team today. We might have caught Georgia by surprise. But it's one win."
After allowing Carter and the Bulldogs to march 74 yards on 11 plays on the game's opening drive, the Gamecocks' defense stiffened, frustrating and harrassing the versatile quarterback throughout the contest.
Carter was intercepted just six times all of last season, thrusting himself into the national spotlight as a Heisman contender. But the Gamecocks forced the junior signal-caller into a horrible afternoon and a career-high five picks.
"Obviously, we have some real problems offensively," Georgia coach Jim Donnan said. "From my standpoint, this is a real letdown. When you have five turnovers, you're not going to win many games. I give Carolina credit for their performance today."
Carter finished just 10-of-24 for 108 yards and did not throw a touchdown after tossing a pair and running for a score last week against Georgia Southern.
Watson, who finished with 93 yards on 20 carries, capped South Carolina's opening drive with a five-yard touchdown run, knotting the contest at 7-7.
"Derek Watson had a great game. We probably ran him too much," Holtz said.
Carter tried to answer but was intercepted at the Gamecocks' 26 by cornerback Andre Goodman, who returned it 70 yards to the Georgia 4. Watson went in from two yards out to make it 14-7 with 3:19 remaining in the opening quarter. South Carolina did not trail thereafter.
The game's most crucial sequence came midway through the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs, trailing 14-10, went for a 4th-and-7 from the South Carolina 30. But Carter was chased out of the pocket by several defenders before firing an incompletion.
With 6:39 to play, cornerback Rashod Faison thwarted another potential winning drive when he picked Carter off deep in Georgia territory off a deflection.
"If I started a franchise, I would draft (Carter) first," Holtz said. "Our pass defense has gotten better. He is a great competitor and a classy young man. I hated that his happened to him."
Watson capped the scoring on a 21-yard scamper with 4:10 to play, sealing the Gamecocks' first win against an SEC opponent in 19 tries.
South Carolina's Phil Petty was 18-of-28 for 154 yards with one interception and wide receiver Randy Brewer was his favorite target, catching five passes for 41 yards.
Jasper Sanks carried 15 times for 65 yards for Georgia and Brett Millican opened the scoring with a five-yard TD run less than five minutes into play.
The Bulldogs were outgained, 287-202, and had their three-game winning streak against the Gamecocks snapped.
Brett Kirouac's 21-yard field goal with 2:46 remaining in the first half cut the deficit to 14-10, but Carter was continually thwarted by the South Carolina defense.
Linebacker Dennis Quinn had two interceptions, including Carter's final pass of the dreadful afternoon in Columbia.
"I think players are having fun playing" Holtz said. "They are getting where they trust us."