By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) —Jake Fromm proved he can throw — and block a little, too — as his two touchdown passes led No. 2 Georgia to a 24-10 win over South Carolina and the SEC East title on Saturday.
Georgia (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 1 CFP) has won its first nine games for the first time since 1982. The Bulldogs clinched the division title and a spot in the SEC championship game when Mississippi beat Kentucky 37-34.
“There won’t be any celebrating,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We’ve got a game to play against Auburn next week. That’s where our focus is.”
Fromm, the freshman best known for handing off to a deep group of Georgia tailbacks, earned respect from South Carolina a few days after Gamecocks defensive back Chris Lammons said the Bulldogs “can’t pass.”
Fromm was accurate and efficient, completing 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards with scoring passes of 10 yards to Javon Wims and 20 yards to Mecole Hardman. He did not throw an interception.
Fromm came through for the Bulldogs when the Gamecocks’ defense put its emphasis on stopping the run.
“We made Jake Fromm play quarterback,” said South Carolina coach Will Muschamp. “And I compliment Jake: He played extremely well tonight. He was very accurate with the football.”
Fromm also had the final block to clear the way for Sony Michel to score on a direct-snap, 8-yard run in the first quarter.
“That was a key block right there,” Michel said. “I needed that block. As soon as he made that block, I knew I was gonna score. He does that all the time. If he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he’s running down field trying to make plays.”
South Carolina (6-3, 4-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Nick Chubb ran for 102 yards on 20 carries for Georgia. Michel added 81 yards rushing.
Georgia, accustomed to lopsided SEC wins, faced a tougher challenge from South Carolina. The Bulldogs led only 14-7 at halftime. Each team had first-half touchdown catches determined by reviews.
Jake Bentley’s 12-yard pass to Bryan Edwards early in the second half was ruled incomplete before the officials’ review determined Edwards made the catch before going out of bounds. The touchdown tied the game at 7.
On Georgia’s next drive, a review determined Wims had his left foot in bounds on his touchdown catch.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Fromm’s touchdown pass to Hardman, who made a leaping catch over Jamyest Williams.
South Carolina’s Parker White kicked a 25-yard field goal late in the third quarter. Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 20-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Following Blankenship’s field goal, Georgia stopped South Carolina at its 44 when cornerback Deandre Baker deflected Bentley’s fourth-down pass. Malkom Parrish’s interception ended the Gamecocks’ final possession.
Bentley completed 21 of 35 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks gave the Bulldogs their toughest game since a 20-19 win at then-No. 24 Notre Dame on Sept. 9. South Carolina stacked the defensive front against the run, forcing Fromm to pass. The strategy was partially successful, but Georgia still ran for 242 yards. The Gamecocks were held to 43 yards rushing.
Georgia: The test from the Gamecocks should help the Bulldogs in tougher matchups ahead, including the visit to Auburn and possibly in the SEC championship game. Georgia showed poise when tested early and was impressive in its long touchdown drive to open the second half, stretching the lead to 14 points. The win should be a confidence booster for Fromm as well as Georgia coaches when future opponents load up their defenses against the run.
The win should strengthen Georgia’s hold on the No. 2 spot in the AP Top 25 and possibly its top spot in the College Football Playoff ranking.
South Carolina: Hosts Florida on Saturday.
Georgia: Visits No. 16 Auburn on Saturday.