Coach Will Muschamp gets his first signature win in Athens over No. 3 Georgia in overtime
Oct. 12, 2019
Gamecock football and Will Muschamp got a win over a top opponent. How did he do it?.
In a stunning performance, the Gamecocks upset No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in double overtime on its home turf Saturday to snap a streak of 11 consecutive losses to ranked opponents.
It took everything USC had luck, several momentum-swinging plays and a standout performance from the defense. Sophomore cornerback Israel Mukuamu had three interceptions, including one in overtime, and senior Javon Kinlaw led an intense campaign of pressure on Georgia QB Jake Fromm that yielded three sacks. Coming into the game, Fromm had been sacked once this season and thrown no picks.
In overtime, Fromm threw a ball that was tipped and intercepted by Mukuamu, giving the Gamecocks a golden opportunity. Gamecocks kicker Parker White missed his 33-yard attempt wide right, however. In double overtime, the Gamecocks pushed the ball to the two-yard line but had to settle for a field goal from White. Georgia, however, could get nothing going on offense, and Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed his attempt to give USC its first win over a top-five opponent since 2013.
Will Muschamp emotional after his signature victory in Columbia
Gamecocks managed to get the win despite losing starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski to injury, who only starts because senior Jake Bentley has already been lost for the season. In Hilinski’s place, third-string QB Dakereon Joyner, who has been taking reps at receiver in recent games, had to take control of the South Carolina offense.
Immediately after the game, an emotional Will Muschamp offered up his thoughts on the incredible game.
“I’m happy for our guys, hate that anyone had to lose that game,” Muschamp said.
The Gamecock coach then got fired up discussing his team’s ability to keep fighting on the road against the Bulldogs in Athens.
“Our guys kept fighting their assess off,” Muschamp said, “this is a hell of a day to be a Gamecock, isn’t it!? Ain’t it awesome!?”
When discussing how tough of a game this was, Muschamp got emotional thinking about all the ups and downs his team has had to overcome this season.
“We lose Jake at the beginning of the season, we lose Ryan, Dakereon is halfway practicing because of the hamstring,” he said. “It says a lot about the culture of our program, the leadership of our program, the type of players we have in our program and the future of our program.”
As for what this win means for Muschamp, he deflected all praise and pointed toward his players that fought hard to get the victory down in Athens — the first of the Muschamp era.
“It don’t mean a damn thing for me, I’m happy for our kids,” Muschamp said.
Muschamp on injuries:
Ryan Hilinski (knee) "was not moving well enough to protect himself. It's not like we felt there was a severe injury or anything. I Wanted to protect (Hilinski). Sadarius Hutcherson was cramping "a little bit" and Aaron Sterling's meniscus was bothering him.
Coach and players talk about betting No. 3 Georgia
“I’m really happy for our players. I’m happy for a staff that works its (butt) off. I’m happy for our fan base, so they can enjoy the week, and and that’s really what it’s all about to me,” Muschamp said.
Those big plays started early in the first quarter, when freshman QB Ryan Hilinski tossed a perfect pass to senior receiver Bryan Edwards for a 47-yard touchdown to put USC up 7-3. That, junior kicker Parker White said, was when he started to sense the Gamecocks might shock the college football world.
And White wound up playing a huge role in that shocker. In the second quarter, he booted a career-long 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 10. Then, with less than a minute left in regulation and the score tied at 17, he missed a 57-yarder. And in the first overtime, he missed what would have been a game-winning field goal from 33 yards.
“It’s definitely a really sucky feeling, but I definitely had confidence in my teammates, the defense to play well, that we’re going to stop them, and that I was going to have a chance to go out there and win the game for us in the next overtime,” White said of his emotions after that first overtime kick.
Sure enough, he came back on in double overtime and drilled a 24-yard field goal, then watched as his Georgia counterpart, Rodrigo Blankenship, missed from 42 yards to give South Carolina the win.
White and USC’s offense was given plenty of help by the defense — sophomore cornerback Israel Mukuamu had three interceptions of UGA QB Jake Fromm on the afternoon, including a pick-six he took back 53 yards to give Carolina a 17-10 lead at halftime, as well as one in overtime to set up White’s first attempt.
”Coach (Travaris Robinson) told us all week ... (Fromm) hasn’t thrown one pick yet, but they never played a defense like us, they never played a D-line like us. I was just able to get my hands on the ball,” Mukuamu said.
Mukuamu’s pick-six was sparked by pressure on Fromm from senior defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw and fellow seniors Kobe Smith and D.J. Wonnum led the defensive line against Georgia’s much-lauded offensive line and sacked Fromm three times — two more than he had been all season long before Saturday.
“I mean, that’s what we do, you know. That’s what we try to aim for,” Kinlaw said of the defensive line’s performance. “That’s our goal every week, man, just go out, stop the run and make them try to pass the ball.”
The defense certainly helped ease the blow of losing Hilinski — early in the third quarter, he was hit in the legs on a penalized play. He had to be helped off the field and did not return, icing his left knee on the bench. Muschamp said after the game that the QB’s status moving forward is still to be determined.
In Hilinski’s place, redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner came in and completed six of 12 passes for 39 yards and rushed six times for 28 yards, a performance Muschamp called “gutsy as hell.”
Still, the offense wound up punting five consecutive times in the second half, and Georgia and Fromm finally broke through with a 96-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter, aided by a fourth-down holding penalty, to tie the game at 17 and set up the overtime theatrics.
And when Blankenship’s kick finally went wide in double overtime, the Gamecocks stormed the field in a cathartic moment for both players and coach in a challenging season.
“I feel so good for (Muschamp),” Edwards said. “I can’t put into words. You know, I’ve been here since I was a freshman, so I’ve been here with him, and we’ve been fighting to get that big win for a while now, and we finally came out on top, so it feels good.”
Fans showing there love
Coach Muschamp finally has a signature win as the Gamecock head coach. Hopefully he has enough healthy players for a chance at another one next week. #SpursUp— Frank Strait (@AccuFrank) October 12, 2019
Beautiful win. We had every opportunity to believe we would lose and decided to win. Credit our players and coaches & the culture of belief of competitive greatness that has been built.— Erik Kimrey (@ErikKimrey) October 12, 2019
A year ago their running game bullied us. This year our will bullied theirs. #SpursUp
As much as I dislike muschamp and some of his decisions today. He won his must win game today in Kentucky and won a signature game against Georgia. This should help in recruiting. It really is a good day to be a gamecock.— James (@jamesbaer1) October 12, 2019
HELLUVA DAY TO BE A GAMECOCK #SPURSUP— Simon Rader (@Simon_Rader) October 12, 2019
This son of a gun here never gives up! He’s an inspiration, keep on doing what you do. 💪 https://t.co/QnMJ9U0ncf— Gamecock James 🤙🏻🐓 (@alewine11) October 12, 2019
ITS A HELL OF A DAY TO BE A GAMECOCK https://t.co/figMwnraAo— Kyle (@kempossible89) October 12, 2019