Greyson Lambert was so good, coach Mark Richt couldn’t resist having a little fun.
Lambert set an NCAA record by completing all but one of his 25 passes Saturday night, throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 7 Georgia to a 52-20 rout of South Carolina.
“I can’t believe he threw an incompletion,” Richt quipped. “I’m disappointed in that. But we’ll forgive him.”
Lambert, who transferred to Georgia after losing his starting job at Virginia, faced plenty of skepticism that he was the right guy to lead a Georgia team that seems to have all the other necessary weapons to compete for a championship. The doubts only increased when he struggled the previous week against Vanderbilt, completing only 11 of 21 passes in an ugly 31-14 win.
Talk about silencing the critics.
Lambert threw his only completion on an overthrow in the back of the end zone late in the first quarter, forcing the Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) to settle for a field goal.
After that, he carved up the South Carolina defense with help from Nick Chubb (159 yards rushing, two touchdowns), Sony Michel (one rushing TD, two more scoring catches) and Malcolm Mitchell (eight catches, 122 yards, one TD).
“It hasn’t really settled in,” Lambert said. “Somebody came and said I did this stat, that stat. I’ve not been able to think that much about it. But it definitely feels good to have a game like this. It feels good for our team to come out here and have a performance like this.”
Georgia seized control with a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half and two more in the first 2 1-2 minutes of the third quarter, taking advantage of an interception by South Carolina’s new starting quarterback, former walk-on Perry Orth.
South Carolina (1-2, 0-2) has lost its first two conference games for the first time since 2008. It was the most points a Steve-Spurrier coached team has ever given up to Georgia.
Lambert posted the highest percentage (96.0) in FBS history for a minimum of 20 completions, breaking the mark of 95.8 (23 of 24) shared by Tennessee’s Tee Martin and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
Lambert completed his final 20 passes, breaking the previous school record of 19 straight completions by Mike Bobo in the 1998 Outback Bowl.
Chubb eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the 11th game in a row as Georgia cleared its last major hurdle before an Oct. 3 showdown with No. 2 Alabama. The Bulldogs face FCS school Southern University next Saturday.
Not even Spurrier could do anything about this one. The Georgia nemesis, who had won four of his last five games against the Bulldogs and was 16-6 in his career going back to his Florida days, could only watch from the sideline with arms folded as his team was blown out between the hedges.
“They totally dominated us,” Spurrier said. “We didn’t throw the ball very well, we didn’t run the ball very well. We got clobbered.”
Leading 24-13 at the half after Lambert’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell with 17 seconds left, Georgia tacked on two more quick TDs less than a minute apart to start the third quarter, finishing off the Gamecocks.
Chubb broke off runs of 31 and 13 yards, while Lambert completed three more passes, the last of them an 11-yarder to Michel, who caught it in the left flats, faked out a would-be tackler at the 5, and zipped into the end zone.
Three plays later, Orth badly overthrew his receiver, Dominick Sanders picked it off, and the 33-yard return gave Georgia another first down at the South Carolina 11. Lambert went to Michel again, only this time with a swing pass to the right side that the speedy receiver took in for a 38-13 lead.
Orth was starting his first college game after Connor Mitch went down with a sprained shoulder the previous week in a loss to Kentucky. He scored on a 4-yard bootleg late in the first half, bringing the Gamecocks to 17-10, but finished just 6 of 17 for 66 yards passing.
Freshman Lorenzo Nunez also played extensively, used largely as a runner, and he could be in line to move up after this dismal performance.
“I’m ready if that’s what coach Spurrier decides,” Nunez said. “But it’s not up to me.”
SOURCE: The Associated Press