Georgia recovers a late fumble, prevails in its rain-delayed SEC opener.
September 15, 2002
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- On a team loaded with offensive stars, Georgia coach Mark Richt knew who won this game.
"One of my first observations is that David Pollack is a warrior," Richt said.
No one who watched the sophomore defensive end dominate South Carolina would argue.
Pollack recovered a fumble near Georgia's goal line in the second quarter, then had a strange interception return for touchdown in the fourth as the No. 9 Bulldogs held on to beat South Carolina 13-7 Saturday.
"I don't know how it happened," Pollack said.
Neither does South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins. He was looking for an open Andrea Gause after dropping into the end zone. Pollack swarmed over Jenkins, but did not appear to get much of the ball.
"When I hit it," Pollack said, "I noticed it kind of stuck to my hand."
So did the referee, who signaled touchdown as Pollack ran toward jumping teammates.
"That's when I thought, "Oh my goodness, this is just one of those days when everything is going to go wrong,' " Jenkins said.
Pollack recovered a fumble by Andrew Pinnock in the second quarter on the Georgia 3 after Tony Gilbert knocked the ball away with his helmet.
In the SEC opener for both, Georgia ended a two-game losing streak to the Gamecocks, who have lost two straight under coach Lou Holtz for the first time in two years.
Georgia's defense stepped up a final time with South Carolina driving. Pinnock, the Gamecocks' goal-line specialist with 22 career touchdowns, had Jenkins' pitch bounce off his chest with 12 seconds left. Thomas Davis recovered, and Georgia ran out the clock.
Holtz said offensive coordinator Skip Holtz wanted Jenkins to run a tighter option on the final play. But the coach thought he would succeed with Pinnock "in the open field going north-south. It looked like a good pitch. I can't tell."
As Tropical Storm Hanna made its way to Williams-Brice Stadium, delaying the game by 52 minutes, it looked like Georgia kicker Billy Bennett's early 22-yard field goal would be the only score.
Then Pollack started a crazy fourth quarter with his score.
If it were up to Richt, Pollack might never have been in his position. Pollack was tried at fullback and nose tackle before settling in at defensive end last spring.
"He's got the heart of a lion," Richt said. "He's the kind of guy who takes the knowledge and will work, work, work until he gets better. Not only good at it, but great at it."
The sloppy weather also played a role in Georgia's win.
"It was a little slippery," said Georgia tailback Musa Smith, who rushed for 103 yards.