The Georgia Bulldogs managed to hang onto a 41-37 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks in last nights thriller between the hedges. Despite many of the experts calling for this yearly showdown to be "low scoring" and "boring" both teams came out of the tunnels ready to put up big points, and they did. The 41-37 score is the second highest combined score in the history of this series, and the special teams for both teams (or lack there of) played a huge roll.
Records were set, plays were made, and a long snap went out of the end zone? Ty Frix, long snapper for the Georgia Bulldogs, put a little too much juice in the snap to Drew Butler late in the third quarter. The play resulted in a safety and two points for the Gamecocks. This wasn't enough to shadow the amazing plays created by Georgia's special teams Saturday night.
In a matter of 14 seconds Brandon Boykin managed to electrify the crowd with a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. This was a Georgia record, which was previously 99 yards. The last time Georgia did this was in 2007 when Asher Allen ran back a kick against Kentucky. The kickoff returns didn't stop there, Boykin returned the next South Carolina kick 48 yards setting up Georgia's second touchdown of the game. Brandon Smith, the true freshman out of Washington (recruited as a corner back) fumbled his first chance at a kickoff return. But Smith got his shot, matching Boykin's 48 yard return and setting up Georgia's fourth touchdown of the half. The combined yardage set a Georgia single game record, breaking the previously record which was 190 yards against Kentucky in 1977 (a 33-0 loss).
Few may have noticed, but Drew Butler (Georgia's starting punter, and son of Georgia legend Kevin Butler) came into last nights game leading the nation in punting average with 57 yards per kick. He only had to do his job once Saturday night and had a 37 yard kick that wasn't returned.
Butler's counterpart on the kicking team, Blair Walsh (sophomore), came into the game not having missed any attempted field goals or extra points in week one. Needless to say, he left the game on that same note. Walsh went two for two on field goals with a 50 yard long, and five for five on extra points. He's perfect on the year.
What else could there be to talk about on special teams for just one game? Oh yeah, sophomore defensive end DeAngelo Tyson. Tyson blocked the Gamecock's attempted point after attempt that would of made it a three point game late in the fourth quarter. We all know three points is a field goal in this game and that's exactly the opportunity South Carolina could have taken during their last drive of the game to tie it up and send it into overtime. Tyson's block forced South Carolina to go for the touchdown, in which the defense stepped up and hunkered down in the final seconds of the game to hold onto the four point win.
This amazing special teams play was combined with a solid offensive performance lead by Joe Cox, and Richard Samuels. With typical Georgia style, the defense didn't show up ready for South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. One side of the ball is always having to step up for the lack of the other. Can Georgia put both a solid offense and defense together and make this season one to never forget?