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Where's Gurley? 6th-ranked Georgia misses late chance against No. 24 South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Todd Gurley is done looking ahead after all that cost No. 6 Georgia this week.

The star tailback had 131 yards and a touchdown, yet didn't have the ball at the most crucial moments as the Bulldogs fell to No. 24 South Carolina 38-35 on Saturday night.

Gurley couldn't help but listen the past two weeks to those awarding the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) the league's Eastern Division and him the Heisman Trophy after his four-TD showing to beat Clemson to start the season.

But South Carolina's defense and his own team's mistakes — both on the field and in the coaching box — limited his effectiveness just enough. The junior's not falling into the trap again, locking solely on his next opponent in Troy and not Georgia's chances in the SEC.

"Right now, I'm not focusing on the East, I'm focusing on Troy," he said. "I don't care what South Carolina does, I don't care about nothing else but Troy right now. The East doesn't mean anything to me right now."

It might've had Gurley gotten the ball on Georgia's last best chance, a first-and-goal at the Gamecocks 4 set up by Damian Swann's fourth-quarter interception with 5:24 left.

On first down, instead of handing off to Gurley, Nick Chubb, Keith Marshall or anyone else, Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason looked to pass, was chased down by Gerald Dixon and was called for intentional grounding to set the Bulldogs 10 yards back.

Defensive tackle J.T. Surratt tipped up Mason's third-down pass and the usually dependable Marshall Morgan was wide right on a 28-yard tying field goal as the rain poured down on Williams-Brice Stadium.

"It was close but didn't go in," said Marshall, who earlier in the game hit his SEC-record 20th straight field goal. "We probably had a chance to stop them again but didn't end up that way."

As the Gamecocks did a week ago against East Carolina, they used their run game to chew up the clock in the fourth quarter and beat Georgia for the fourth time in five years.

Georgia coach Mark Richt thinks his club will show the resiliency of South Carolina — the Gamecock were embarrassed 52-28 by No. 7 Texas A&M on Aug. 28 — and bounce back.

"You can't just go in the tank and quit. What did South Carolina do when they got beat? They got better and beat East Carolina," Richt said.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1) got three TD passes from Dylan Thompson to build an 11-point halftime lead and stay in front of the Bulldogs.

PHOTO: Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason (14) looks to pass against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason (14) looks to pass against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

"It was the best feeling I've had for a long time," Surratt said. "We knew we had to buck up and make a stop."

Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward knew his defense couldn't be as awful as it looked in the season opener when it surrendered a school-record 680 yards to the Aggies.

He saw that improvement this time out with the clinching strong stand, although he sounded like most Georgia fans wondering why Gurley didn't get the ball right away in the series.

"I thought they'd try and get a ball to Gurley," Ward said. "They didn't."

Richt acknowledged as much when asked about the sequence.

"If I had to do it again, I'd have hammered it," he said.

Instead, the Bulldogs lost for the fourth time in five years to Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.

"Like I said last week, some wins are better than others," Spurrier said with a smile.

The victory was Spurrier's 201st as an SEC coach, tying him for second all-time with Georgia great Vince Dooley. More importantly, it put the Gamecocks right back in the SEC East race.

Gamecock players, bashed by fans and commentators since falling to Texas A&M, sprinted to the student section to celebrate their fourth victory in their last five meetings with Georgia.

The win also made Spurrier 16-6 in his career against the Bulldogs and moved him past Auburn's Shug Jordan for most victories all-time vs. Georgia, something the head ball coach made sure to mention to his players in the locker room.

"We got a whole bunch of them at Florida," Spurrier said. "But to get five of them at South Carolina, that's something. I think I may be the winningest coach against Georgia here at South Carolina."

Gurley also had a 54-yard TD run wiped out because of holding on sophomore guard Brandon Kublanow.

Georgia closed to three points one last time on Quayvon Hicks' 1-yard scoring run with 7:10 left.

The game was delayed nearly 90 minutes because of lightning and severe weather.

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